IT IS almost three years to the day since top northern jockey Graham Kliese was involved in a horror fall from a horse named Fundido in a race at Home Hill.
The horse, a well backed favourite, was leading the field when it is thought to have put a hoof in a hole on the course proper near the 600m. It broke a leg and had to be destroyed.
And the incident went close to destroying the jockey’s career as well. But aided by his fierce resilience and determination, Graham survived after months of recuperation and intense therapy.
Kliese’s lawyers, in a Townsville District Court claim lodged last week, are seeking $750,000 damages against four defendants – Burdekin Race Club, Racing Queensland, Townsville Turf Club and Burdekin Shire Council.
Oddly Townsville Turf Club spokesperson Cassandra Cazzulino said the club had not received any “formal notification”. It is hard to understand the Burdekin Shire Council involvement but Racing Queensland has responded that it will “respond to the claim in due course”.
Kliese suffered four broken vertebrae and a cracked pelvis among other injuries in the fall.
He claims the hole was covered up and unable to be seen because of the long grass.
Four other senior jockeys who rode at the meeting offered written statements that concurred with Kliese’s assessment of the track.
It really was an incident that should never have happened.
It was at a time when the new Cluden track was under construction and the Townsville race dates were distributed to other clubs in the area, of which Home Hill was a main beneficiary – which incidentally was a surprise to many licensees at the time.
Home Hill raced three times in five weeks in February – March of that year and a suggestion by Townsville-based steward Sam Woolaston to transfer the last meeting (March 7) to Townsville was overruled by Racing Queensland.
It is most notable that after the fall, all meetings that had been transferred to Home Hill from Cluden were rescheduled for Mackay and Cairns.
Kliese’s claim includes his assessment that Home Hill was receiving insufficient maintenance and upkeep for it to be conducting racing meetings three times in five weeks.
“The track was rough, there were holes and the grass was too long for anyone to conduct an adequate assessment,” the claim states.
We wait with interest further developments in the case, especially RQ’s response.
THE northern summer is not an ideal time for Kliese. He came off Assertive Love at Cairns last month and carries leg injuries that might keep him out of the saddle for months. He holds little hope of riding at the winter carnivals, but (that old resilience again!) says he WILL be back. Just a matter of when.
Meanwhile he has an interesting legal matter to keep him occupied. While the Burdekin and Townsville clubs debate their respective level of culpability in the matter, RQ, which had the final say and moved the meetings away from Home Hill after the incident, obviously has the greatest concern.
So it would appear.
THE betting moguls Crownbet and Sportsbet fought and squabbled over the purchase of William Hill for a mind boggling $300 million and now they and their bookie colleagues argue and condemn the new Place of Consumption (POC tax) that’s about to be levied by state governments.
South Australia daringly imposed the tax on the corporates two years ago and many believed it would not survive. In fact, the corporates for a while had the temerity to place an embargo on racing in that state. That should have been enough to issue marching orders and loss of licence.
Now it seems all (or most) state governments have opted for the imposition of the same 15 per cent POC tax Queensland included. It provides a return of 15pc of all money wagered within their state.
The corporates, naturally bitterly opposed, blatantly say it won’t affect them as much as the punters and racing in general.
Maybe the tax might see them scurrying back to wherever they came from.
In the same week Crownbet paid $300m for William Hill there are reports of other takeovers of smaller off-course betting operations by the giants – AKA crocodiles of the industry.
AS we keep saying Hong Kong and Japan remain the biggest racing centres in the world by far. And licensed bookmakers are banned. Funny that.
They survive and prosper with just a national tote – a system that so easily could and should be introduced in Australia.
Imagine on-course bookies only on racecourses all over the country. And a national tote. And all the multi millions stays at home.
Wake up Australia.
And while this is goes on the bookies in Central Queensland are having a little war over who can and who cannot work at little meetings like Gladstone and Middlemount where, they say, the bookies draw is said to be somewhat suss.
Mind you they are not alone there. Seems the Number 1 stand on some tracks might be beside the bar one week and, depending on who draws it, the no 1 alley could be the car park next time.
The bag boys in the bush take it pretty seriously and new Racing Minister Stewart Hinchcliffe was handed a list of problems to peruse when visiting a meeting at Thangool last month.
He hasn’t responded to questions handed to him that day that highlight procedures by some clubs with regards to closed rings and conduct of barrier draws and highly critical of Racing Queensland for not enforcing the rules.
But that’s not surprising, according my informant.
“RQ don’t enforce their own laws and simply refuse to intervene.”
Popular Gladstone chairman David Weinert, however, defended his club’s stand on the matter.
“We have eight bookmakers, some of whom have been with us for more than 20 years.
“Eight is as many as this club can carry as the whole town is in economic downturn, as is the racing.
“And we have to be fair to the eight bookies that have been supportive of us, in spite of the QR rules.
“It's that simple,” he said.
“Besides, we don’t get a cent of revenue from bookmakers any more. Not a cent.”