Trainers declare enough is enough

THE husband and wife racing team of jockey John Stephens and trainer-wife Angela have genuine prospects of a winning double at a below standard Callaghan Park race meeting in Rockhampton today.

Rising 46, John Stephens will ride Colonial Bill ($6.00, Class Two) and Bunbury ($6.00) in the Maiden Handicap (1300m).

Both are trained by Angela and the couple consider them genuine winning chances.

Rather embarrassingly, the Rockhampton Jockey Club could only attract fields for a four race card after the Class Six Handicap (1100m) was scrapped by Queensland Racing because it only attracted five acceptances.

Curiously, with the Class Six dropped, it would have made considerably more sense to split the 16 horse-strong Maiden Handicap (1300m) into two divisions given the acute shortage of jockeys.

Hightonian (Angela Stephens), Drewlicious (Greg Wehlow) and Jessie Blue (Tom Barlem) are likely Maiden scratchings through no jockeys being available.

"It makes no sense to me,'' said irate trainer Tom Barlem yesterday who has Jessie Blue engaged.

"I've tried everywhere to get a jockey and am struggling. It seems there will not be a rider available for mine and the others. Surely, it would have made a lot more sense to divide the race, get every horse a start and expand to a five race program. I just don't know anymore,'' a frustrated Bartlem commented.

His argument would strike an accord with any owner or trainer who believe racing should be fostered and not decimated, particularly so with maideners but it seems Queensland Racing is unrelenting and unrepentant on with-holding prizemoney on contenious premises.

It would have made far more sense for Queensland Racing to have redirected the $5000 lost through the Class Six abandonment, and foster racing by thereby dividing the 16 horse Maiden thus distributing monies to at least four more owners.

As a matter of industry concern, it would be enlightening of the Rockhampton Jockey Club to divulge what if any application and on what basis, did it seek Queensland Racing to divide the Maiden.

If the RJC did not make the strongest rerpresentation possible on this matter before the acceptace deadline, it should share the blame with Queensland Racing over this farcical situation.

It simply isn't good enough.

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