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ARB needs to be more active

 May 3 2012

In the light of a changing of the guard at the Australian Racing Board, it may be prudent for this august body to start flexing its relatively unused muscle.

Two top positions at the ARB have to be filled after Chairman Bob Bentley and Chief Executive Mark Harding both recently announced their retirement.

Harding is Hong Kong bound while Bentley has severed his official duties with racing after the recent Queensland State government election.

It has always appeared that the national body should do more than its overall charter of ensuring that thoroughbred racing in all States and Territories of Australia is conducted according to the same general practices, conditions and integrity.

Why isn't the ARB more active in programming and trying to avoid the overlapping of carnivals and instituting more uniform rules particularly regarding penalties as I illustrated last week with the careless riding suspension of Michael Rodd?

A nine day buffer that exists in NSW after the charge is proven before the penalty applies, contrasts starkly with Victoria where it is instant suspension.

A body like the ARB should be more active and effective in taking a leading role. It should be much more than just a rubber stamp.

This weekend is a day in the sun for provincial racing.

Two of the most vibrant race clubs outside of the metropolitan area in Australia – Hawkesbury and the Gold Coast – have starring roles.

At Hawkesbury it is the annual stand alone meeting assuming metropolitan status for two listed races, the Guineas and the Rowley Mile while at the Gold Coast there is the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes and the listed Prime Minister's Cup.

Both race meetings have proved successful in the past and this weekend shouldn't be any different.

The Hawkesbury meeting follows the successful autumn carnival in Sydney while the Gold Coast virtually marks the start of the Queensland winter carnival, even though it still is autumn.

The Prime Minister's Cup at the Gold Coast has had a chequered career.

Sadly, in its formative years in the 1970s it was a 2015 metre race extended to 2400 metres from 1988 to 2005.
Since then, however, it has been reduced to 1300 metres.

My chagrin about this distance slashing aside, it is an interesting punting proposition this week.

It also may be significant because Phelan Ready may win his first race since his Golden Slipper triumph of 2009.

The now five year old certainly put the writing on the wall for a future win when he finished a splendid fourth to Hay List in the VRC Newmarket on March 10.

The Gold Coast meeting also marks another important step in another comeback by talented heavyweight jockey Shane Scriven.

Scriven has recently trimmed down his weight from a top of 73 kilograms and he has two rides on Saturday    Phelan Ready in the Prime Minister's Cup and Scenic Shot in the Hollindale Stakes.

For the weight harried jockey it is fortuitous that both horses have a handicap of 59 kilograms.

It is to be hoped Scriven cements a successful return at the Gold Coast because he has enormous race riding talent.

In the Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury, trainer Gai Waterhouse and jockey Nash Rawiller may frank their successful Sydney carnival with the pre post favourite Fast Clip, backing up from a game fifth in the Doncaster at Randwick a fortnight ago.

However, I am enticed by the good odds on offer about Mr Unforgettable from the Kevin Moses stable.

Mr Unforgettable is coming off a slightly unlucky fourth in a 1400 metre race at Randwick a fortnight ago. He, in fact, has only had one previous run at Hawkesbury and that was in the Rowley Mile last year when he was favourite but finished unplaced.

There may have been excuses because he was backing up after having won on a very heavy track a fortnight earlier.


By Rod Gallegos

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