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Dear Santa...

 Dec 20 2012

It's a long time since I wrote to Santa with a Christmas wish list but I have decided this year to put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) to ask the jolly man to see whether he is able to straighten out a few burning issues in Australia's thoroughbred racing industry.

Do you think he could imbue the different State racing jurisdictions with the spirit of good will towards each other? More specifically could there be a national programming system whereby carnivals didn't overlap?

There is no argument that racing is riding on the coat tails of punters or more particularly, their financial investments. The basis of funding for racing comes from TAB turnover and other betting taxes.

To maximise betting turnover the best horses, jockeys and trainers should be competing at the one meeting.

On the same question of interstate cooperation why can't the same rules apply in the various stewards' rooms?

For instance, one of the most glaring examples of stark differences is in stewards' rulings that in NSW, jockeys have a nine-day buffer between conviction and when the penalty is imposed.

This time frame satisfies a jockey's commitment for a horse in a major race – any race for that matter – when finding a last minute replacement is either awkward or impossible.

In Victoria, however, the application of the penalty is basically immediate unless an appeal hearing can be mounted quickly.

It is puzzling that Australia – an island – should have so many variations to the rules of racing. After all, racing is a national sport (industry? business?) and it shouldn't matter whether if you are in a state north, south, east or west -  shouldn't the same basic rules apply?

One set of rules should suit all.

At the risk of irritating the anti-jumps lobby, I am pleased to read the Victorian jumps racing season – from March 4 to September 29 - has been mapped out with $3.175million in prizemoney for a total of 70 jumps races comprising 44 hurdles and 26 steeplechases.

Victoria is the last bastion of jumps racing.

It is an intricate part of the horse racing industry, despite what the doomsayers may say. Continuing competition has a lot more going for it than the knackery.

Former ace jockey and now successful trainer, Ron Quinton, has paid his two kilogram claiming apprentice Sam Clipperton a huge compliment by engaging him for Villiers Stakes topweight Monton, even though it is a non-claiming race.

Last year Clipperton had won a lead-up race on Monton only to be replaced by the infinitely more experienced Hugh Bowman when the gelding won the Villiers.

Monton is tackling the 1600 metre feature race second-up from a spell but his return to racing was excellent when he a close second to the talented Malavio, which subsequently suffered an injury and won't be contesting the Villiers.

In the Australian Turf Club Handicap, Bilko is good odds considering he is coming off a Warwick Farm 1600 metre win earlier this month.

Tackling the same course this Saturday and coming off four consistent runs since a spell, he has excellent prospects.

In pursuit of a treble (goodness, in my current form I need a big three-horse payout to break square), Whitefriars is my choice in the Razor Sharp Handicap.

Trained by Rick Worthington and ridden by the highly experienced Jim Cassidy, Whitefriars has plenty of weight (61.5 kilograms) but has performed well in better quality races than this and he has been primed for a first-up coup with two barrier trials

Merry Christmas to everyone and may the New Year be chockfull of good health and long-priced winners.

By Rod Gallegos

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