Western Australian Trainers Update / Western Australia / 02 Oct, 2009

** Kindly supplied by the Western Australian Racing Trainers Association


The deterioration of race tracks over the winter season has become a major point of concern for trainers as well as the frustration of connections of many horses that have not been able to obtain race starts.

Trainers have now asked RWWA to extend the Pinjarra and Bunbury seasons in 2009-10 as well as hold more meetings at Toodyay which is currently used for just one meeting a year. No meetings will be held at York this season, but six days may be programmed in 2010-11 provided track improvements are carried out. York will receive no finance from RWWA, but has been allocated almost $200,000 from the Regional Development Commission for this work.


The annual meeting of the WA Racing Trainers’ Association will be held at Perth Racing Offices on Friday, October 14. Nominations are being called for six vacancies on the committee closing with the secretary at 75 Gardiner Street, Belmont, on October 7.

The new committee is expected to meet with Australian Trainers’ Association representatives shortly after the AGM to discuss national matters, including recent major changes involving whip use. This issue is attracting international interest with no two countries adopting the same set of rules.


International Federation of Horse Racing chairman Louis Romanet has called for “international harmonisation in the medication area” of racing to produce a level playing area across international boundaries.

Addressing a major US conference, Romanet said: “A positive test in one country must be a positive test in another country.”

He pointed out that in last 30 years advances in technology have resulted in over a one-million fold increase in drug screening sensitivity allowing more prohibited substances to be detected at very low levels. “That sensitivity is absolutely necessary for the detection of potent drugs that have no place in racing but it is also capturing some therapeutic substances which do not influence performance,” he said.

The new philosophy is that a zero tolerance approach for regulatory control of therapeutic substances is becoming a fading illusion and the goal for the future integrity of racing is to develop “screening levels” for therapeutic substances based on a rigorous analysis of their pharmacological and pharmacokinetic properties.


Racing NSW will replace the ratings system of programming and handicapping from October 1 with a revolutionary and innovative Benchmark System. It is claimed that this will bring together the best elements and resources of modern regulatory handicapping and private handicapping by form analysts working independently of the regulatory authority.

Ratings will be superseded by a published Benchmark that denotes the weight that each horse will carry at its next start with each Benchmark point equaling half a kilogram.

Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter Vlandys said: “The Benchmark system is a very exciting development for racing in this State. Under the system handicapping will be truly merit based. Immediately after every start each horse will be assessed according to the true merits of its performances against the entire horse population racing in NSW.”

The system will be watched with interest by all other States.


When Andrew Castle entered the apprentice school this year he already had a start on most new kids on the block. For some time Castle had spent weekends and school breaks with trainer Lou Luciani gaining work experience before deciding on a riding career.

According to Master of Apprentices, Laurie Millington, the young rider is capable of following in the footsteps of other riders who passed through the same stables – riders like Link Robertson, Jason Whiting, Daniel Stack and Dion Luciani.

“He has natural ability, a good work ethic and is learning from an old master,” Millington said.

Castle opened his winning account with three winners in six days when he piloted Cold Command to win a maiden at Northam on August 27 and followed that up with a double at a Belmont mid-week meeting on September 2 on Wonderful Mak over 1400m and St Pierre over 1650m.

Castle has been chosen as the winner of a $200 Encouragement Award jointly sponsored by WA racing trainers and Bio John.


The leadup to the annual Goldfields Racing Round saw racing expert Ernie Manning look to Kalgoorlie for winners of the weekly Hi Gains Training Awards during August. They included:

Car Dealer: There was a time when Paul Smythe had a small involvement in pacing, but then he settled in Kalgoorlie where he established a flourishing car business as well a lucrative interest in racing. Another good pay day came on August 15 when Smythe trained a winning double with Yes We Can and the Tattersalls Cup winner Subizaretta. Both horses were very impressive in winning and looked likely to add to their records during the round.

Family Business: Peter Fernie had already established a solid lead on the goldfields trainers’ premiership when he added another three winners on August 23. Fernie won the first race on the program with Battle Scene and completed the treble with wins with Spice Master and Black George. Fernie has specialised in rejuvenating out-of-form metropolitan horses and has added to the great record of the Fairetha Lodge established by his grandfather Bob Fernie.

Joys of Winning: Karnup trainer Adam Durrant has enjoyed an amazing run of success with Reverend Lovejoy since taking over the gelding’s preparation in March. A win in the $100,000 Coolgardie Cup on August 30 was Reverend Lovejoy’s seventh success from nine starts for the stable. It was a training triumph for Durrant who gave the horse a two month break from June 27 before bringing him back to carry a weight-equaling record of 58kg in winning the cup.

Hobby Man: Owen Cocking has trained just a handful of horses since he left his food merchant business in Kalgoorlie several years ago and moved to a property at Mandogalup, but his recent strike rate has been most impressive. The galloper responsible is Dante’s Banquet who carried 59 kg and led all the way to win a Belmont race on September 5. That was Dante Banquet’s fourth win from five starts.