RACING NSW stewards yesterday opened an inquiry into betting activities on some country and provincial races. It is believed two experienced out-of-town riders were interviewed behind closed doors at Racing NSW’s Sydney offices. The races under investigation were held between June 20 and August 15.
WHIPS AWAY: The Racing Victoria board has supported the view that changes to the whip rule are required. The board met on Wednesday and discussed recommendations from a recent national stewards conference at which the use of the whip by jockeys was discussed.
"The stewards were united on introducing a new policy but I can’t say at this point what they are," RV chief steward Terry Bailey said yesterday.
Bailey said the proposed changes would go before the Australian Racing Board this month, while he revealed results of out-of-competition drug tests on more than 300 Victorian horses had all returned negative.
Bailey also confirmed the Irish jockeys set to ride in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup met for half an hour with stewards yesterday. Team riding was on the agenda.
"We went through our careless riding policy; what is tolerable, what is not," Bailey said. "We also gave them a copy of rules outlining they must take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure their mounts obtain best possible placings in the field. The meeting was very positive; they appreciated the opportunity to be informed about the local rules."
On the racetrack, veteran Victorian jockey Neville Wilson yesterday rode his 2000th winner when scoring on Cocojet at Stawell. The 62-year-old rode his first winner at Mansfield in 1963.
TRAINER’S OMEN: Walking through the tunnel under the Flemington track on Thursday morning, horses filing in and out, trainer Nigel Blackiston spotted a gold coin. The trainer of Littorio, which runs in today’s Mackinnon Stakes, and Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, bent down and picked it up.
"Heads up," Blackiston said.
He couldn’t make out the currency but Blackiston wondered if it was an omen. He had just explained everything was on track with the dual derby placegetter and Turnbull Stakes winner.
"I did toy with the idea of running him in the Cox Plate but he did struggle with the corners at Caulfield, and the Mackinnon was definitely a better option," Blackiston said.
Littorio finished fifth as favourite behind All The Good in the Caulfield Cup, with jockey Steven King on top.
"Back on his home track, he races well here. No use changing things, he is comfortable here," Blackiston said.
"He has done really well. I think he has taken plenty of benefit from the [Caulfield] cup, he has improved. Steven is happy with the horse … I’ve got him right where I want him."
WRONG TONIC: Don’t swallow the line about Coffs Harbour sprinter Nuclear Medicine appearing at Flemington for the first time. The winner of seven from 14 lines up in today’s Salinger Stakes.
"He came down here with Natural Destiny before he had shoes on," trainer Gordon Yorke said yesterday.
"He was an apprentice, I’d just got him out of the paddock, thought a trip down on the plane and a bit of road travel would help. He learnt a lot from the grey fellow [Natural Destiny]."
The grey finished a luckless fifth in the Salinger when ridden by Glen Boss but Taree jockey Scott Thurlow is in charge of Nuclear Medicine.
Thurlow had to forgo rides at Gosford on Thursday and Newcastle today. "[I’ve] never ridden here before, I’ll just lap it all up," he said. "Use it as a great experience, a thrill."
Yorke reckons Nuclear Medicine has "done too well, I should have been here last week and let him rip up the straight on Tuesday morning" and "anyway, we are here, he has earnt the trip and we’re having a go".
STRAP IN: Trainer Tom Hughes enters new territory at Flemington today. In the opening race, Hughes has debutant Major Rocketman.
"I’ve never done this before," Hughes said. "Eight weeks ago, he was at the breakers."
Hughes reckons Major Rocketman is a natural two-year-old. His first trip to the barriers was aborted when an older horse went off in the gates.
Two subsequent outings at the machine proved educational. Then there was a jump-out and then another down the straight on Tuesday. "He has just taken it all in," Hughes said. "I reckon he’ll be thereabouts on Saturday."