Who keeps an eye on race officials?

WHO judges the judges?

It is a generalisation of all in authority but in this case let us assume the scenario centres around racing officials.

Unless having been on "both sides of the fence'' it is a question that many in the corridors of racing officialdom would find easy to dismiss.

Some I can envisage would see the very suggestion of judgment as audacious.

As I have penned before in this column over the years, I will not judge or be critical in serious form of any occupation that I have not performed.

Accordingly, I have no qualms with commenting on racing stew-ards, officials or committees as from experience I am qualified to do so unlike so many others who shoot off at the mouth or through the pen.

So I can understand when racing followers, members of the public and racing licencees (trainers, jockeys, strappers, bookmakers and others) often raise the question are "stewards or officials answerable to anyone?''

It is a good question and one I even start to wonder about myself.

I know for fact when I was employed as a steward in New South Wales, the Australian Jockey Club (my employers) was forever monitoring performance with regular "please explains''.

If the explanation was insuffi-cent, it was simple ? you were on a plane bound for Randwick to front the committee and chairman of stewards!

There is a perception among a growing band of people who complain to me regularly that in Queensland "are the actions and performances of stewards scrutinised by their employers?''

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting anything sinister but simply performance levels.

Like all humans, stewards are subject to frailties and mistakes but the overriding opinion has it that if, for instance, a trainer or jockey makes a simple mistake, he or she are all too often fined.

When a steward or racing official errs, that is acceptable ? no action. But how can it be? Don't kid yourself, it does happen regularly.

Surely that is hypocritical?

So I ask the question of Queensland Racing ? who judges the judges? Will it be Andrew Hedges, the newly appointed director of integrity operations with Queensland Racing?

Previously with the Australian Taxation Office, the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Racing chairman Bob Bentley said Andrew had worked with stakeholders such as the Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Immigration and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. "Andrew has gained extensive knowledge in both surveillance and operations through various investigatory units and task forces on which he participated,'' Bentley said.

Which is all very good but can Andrew read a race, is he skilled at determining if the unthinkable happened and a jockey "pulled a horse in a race'' or whether a rider is actually guilty of careless riding or if a protest decision determined by stewards was wrong?

With respect, but clearly from experienced observation, it seems to me at Queensland Racing there is no tribunal in play to judge stewards on the performance of the most important of their duties ? racing.

I intended to put this question, among others, to Bob Bentley yesterday but unfortunately he had not returned my call at the time of deadline.

So the question remains ? Who judges the judges?

Maybe me!



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