OWNER John Singleton was drunk. Racehorse More Joyous was “off” and unfit to run. Trainer Gai Waterhouse forgot the required paper-work. Someone at a television station helped rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns with his homework. No one laid a glove on ever-smiling bookmaker Tom Waterhouse but discussion of his betting records wait for another today.
Today, Monday, Australian time, the New South Wales Racing inquiry rose above salacious expectations reinforcing that racing stewards were spoilsports in not allowing it to be televised.
So far no one has dug out any huge scalp but it was satisfying to hear trainer Gai Waterhouse and her bookmaker son Tom yelling across the stewards’ room that John Singleton’s drunkenness was the reason they were all there.
The official reason was Singleton had publicly declared at Randwick racecourse that trainer Waterhouse had told book maker Waterhouse Singo’s champion mare More Joyous could not win the All Aged Stakes.
More Joyous duly vindicated Singo’s prediction to finish second last.
Gai Waterhouse became indignant during the inquiry in the NSW capital of Sydney. She described Singleton’s accusations as “outlandish”. When asked with whom she spoke about More Joyous’s condition, Waterhouse snapped, “What are you implying?” The point of the question was obvious and unworthy of her umbrage.
The trainer had to admit an error in that pre-race treatments of More Joyous were not recorded in the mare’s logbook. This is not as serious a breach as it first sounds because both the trainer’s and owner’s vets had signed off on the treatments described as routine. The treatments did not come within the gamut of the major naughty of not reporting directly to stewards a horse’s illness, injury or treatment which might affect its performance.
This exchange between Chief Steward Ray Murrihy puts the issue into perspective.
Waterhouse: ‘‘We never tried to hide anything,”.
Murrihy: ‘‘I’m not suggesting you did, but it’s important those records are accurate.’’
Translate that into the trainer awaits a hefty fine – hefty by you or my standards, not so much by those of the cashed-up Waterhouse clan. As with all matters horse racing, some people were tipped off. Before the inquiry a few reporters said Waterhouse would be fined. The rest of us could not see why. Now we know.
Mother and son both accused Singleton of being drunk when he accosted the trainer before t.he race. The owner said he had had only three beers. An unkinder remark from Gai Waterhouse was that Singleton had so unsettled More Joyous jockey Nash Rawiller that he rode a bad race. This was really turning the affair on its head. When Singleton approached Waterhouse she was discussing riding tactics with Rawiller. We all saw on television that the jockey looked like he was praying the earth would open up so he could hide in a hole
But the trainer was on shaky ground when she said Rawiller had a bad ride as he gave More Joyous the run of the race behind the leader. The alternative tactic of challenging the front runner Rain Affair could only have ended in the eventual winner All Too Hard winning more easily. Singleton said Rawiller had a great ride and I think most of the racing crowd would agree.
Singleton seemed to have mellowed at the inquiry, admitting to bookmaker Tom Waterhouse Johns had told him he planned to back More Joyous. Yet Singo stuck with the unravelling story that Johns said on the Saturday of the race “the horse is off”.
“It’s his favourite expression … (he meant) it’s not going to win,” Singleton said. John’s favourite expression, doesn’t that suggest it was a throwaway line, apparently first offered by the ex-footballer over many beers at a footy game on Friday night.
Johns had recanted but Singleton made light of that “I thought someone’s been eating the dictionary or someone at Channel Nine has been improving his vocabulary.” To be fair to Johns he does like to introduce a casual big word into his football commentary and sometimes he gets the meaning right.
You can’t help but feeling chief steward Murrihy is enjoying himself at this inquiry. He asked Singo why he had not brought his concerns to the stewards.
“All I had was hearsay from an ex-jockey and a famous footballer,”Singleton replied. Kaching! That’s the sound of the steward’s cash register accepting a substantial fine from the racehorse owner.
Murrihy even managed to top master of the one-liner, Singo. For the first time, stewards exercised new-found powers to access telephone calls of the witnesses. “They do provide an interesting matrix,” Murrihy said. Perhaps he was referring to The Matrix movies. They were certainly interesting but ultimately impenetrable as to meaning.
Thankfully, the inquiry continues.