OTI Stalwarts Tom and Gailo Return this Weekend

A busy Saturday for OTI runners with a number of horses contesting some strong fields in Group and Listed contests.

At Flemington, Romancer heads into the Listed Sofitel over 1400m in fine form, having had three weeks between runs. He is race fit and flying this preparation under the care of Grahame Begg, so we hope to see him figuring in the finish. Apprentice Lochie King takes the ride after beautifully piloting the horse in his recent top three placings.

Joining Romancer on course at Flemington is Gailo Chop and Night’s Watch in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m. Gailo Chop is returning to the races for the first time in 16 months and despite lacking match-day fitness is set and raring to join the strong field. Night’s Watch will look to go back in running as a result of his wide barrier draw, and work home for Damien Oliver. A significant step up in grade, we hope to see the horse finishing off strongly.

Below: Romancer and Lochie King. 

Tom Melbourne makes his track return this campaign after scratching last weekend due to the very wide draw. The Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes over the 1300m might play a little short for him, but with genuine speed we should see him maintain his bridesmaid status and run a sneaky second place!

Also running on Saturday at Echuca is Trent Busuttin and Natalie young trained Au Pair. This staying filly by Shocking has come on well this preparation and is looking to break her maiden over the 1600m. In Queensland, Savvy Acquisition is stepping out in the 1800m Class 1 and in coming back in distance we should see him up on the speed and finishing off well.

On Sunday, we turn to Geelong where Urban Lumberjack represents the Mitch Freedman stable in the BM64 over 1518m. A horse who has gained some nice form since his arrival in Australia. Mitch has selected the perfect target given the current acceptances. We are looking forward to seeing him perform well.

Below: Urban Lumberjack wins his first Australian start. 

Etna is heading to Mt Gambier for the 2050m BM64 for Aaron Purcell and the team. He looks like he is back to his best form after a cracking second-place run at Warrnambool last start. This step-up in distance will suit and he looks a strong chance.

Best of luck to everyone involved in the OTI runners this weekend!

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It’s Time to Train our Trainers

OTI Director Terry Henderson’s articles will feature in the weekly edition of Winning Post throughout spring. Below is the first edition from Saturday, September 7. 

It has perplexed me for years that, despite the relative affluence of the industry, our racing authorities spend so little money helping trainers to be equipped to start a training business, let alone manage one. There are few more demanding jobs than being a horse trainer. Few management tasks have such a plethora of responsibilities to be faced on a daily basis.

Many can prepare a horse to race well. It’s a huge leap to prepare a stable of horses when one considers the challenge of attracting and keeping quality staff, the need to buy and sell stock and having the nous to run a business. That’s before they operate on a seven-day week in the process of managing owner expectations.

To the industry’s credit, we have developed superb jockey training programs, spent millions on their training equipment and provided them with considerable assistance to enable successful and healthy riding careers. It’s little wonder that, as a group, Australia’s jockeys are considered world class.

By contrast, within 12 months a stable hand in our country, with minimal mentoring or training (equine or business), can progress to owning and running a sizeable business. He or she could control scores of horses, employ stable and office staff and commit to long-term finance arrangements. The passing of an industry exam to the satisfaction of the stewards is all that will have been required. Should the trainer be successful at the track, the business can be allowed to grow to any size the trainer may wish without any constraint by racing authorities.

There’s little wonder problems arise in Australia’s training ranks with integrity (cheating), the overuse of vets, and personal health and financial worries, especially over payments to horse sales houses. Such issues do not exist to the same level in those racing jurisdictions where there are either well-recognised conventions or formal training programs.

Over the years, many racing administrators have argued that a trainer is a sole trader who needs to ensure that he or she has the skills to run a business. For me, that’s a copout. It dismisses the impact trainers have on racing’s image, respect and appeal to the broader public.

In Victoria, the image damage from trainers’ indiscretions has been immense. It is now more than six months since Darren Weir fell afoul of the rules of racing. Robert Smerdon went before him. They were two of the biggest names in racing and our industry as a whole took a battering in the public arena. Few in our industry will argue that, thanks to racing’s share of betting revenue (primarily the TAB), revenue is healthy. It’s wise management that, in such times, there is an investment in the long-term viability of the business.

There is no more important area for investment, in any industry, than in key people. In our industry, jockeys and trainers are the two most important groups that will most influence racing’s success and sustainability. If there is genuine concern that racing be presented as a respectable sport/industry in future, authorities cannot afford to abdicate their responsibility for improving the training profession. We know from experience that the “stick” approach alone does not foster adherence to the rules. Education and mentoring in relevant, time-friendly ways is the only way to equip our trainers with the skills to develop their careers in a manner of which they and our industry can be truly proud.

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Weekly News Update

Click below to watch our weekly news update with Terry Henderson.

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