The Courier-Mail

Meaghers poised for happy returns

- NATHAN EXELBY

HARADA Bay has a formidable recent run of consistenc­y to live up to when he runs for Team Meagher at Doomben today.

After nearly three years on the Brisbane racing scene after a successful stint in Singapore, the partnershi­p of John Meagher and his sons Dan and Chris has found its feet.

In the 30th anniversar­y year of John’s Melbourne Cup success with What A Nuisance, Team Meagher has had seven winners, six seconds and a third from its past 15 runners.

“It’s a pretty good start to the new season,” said Dan Meagher, who admits it took the father-son team “a little while to find our feet”.

“We put high expectatio­ns on ourselves, but there were people who told us it would take a good three years to get establishe­d. At the time we half-scoffed at that, but it’s proven about right.

“You have to find your way. Training in Asia is a lot different to training in Australia, so it took us a bit of time to get a good system going.

“We were a bit here, there and everywhere. We were going good, then awful, but now, everybody knows what they have to do and the systems we have in place are working.

“We changed our feeding programs and we are placing our horses a lot better. It’s just taken a bit longer than we wanted.

“Our owners are happy and we are getting results. You can talk as much as you want, but results are the only things that tell the story.”

Half of the 40 horses on the books are unraced and Meagher Jr concedes the blazing start to the new season won’t last.

“We’re in second position now and we have no hope of staying there. We will get run over pretty quick,” he said.

“I would like to be in the top 10 if possible, but I want the strike rate to stay good. It’s the best in Queensland at the moment.”

He has high hopes Harada Bay can add to the tally.

“He’s drawn outside eight most times. Now he’s drawn well, I think he’s a huge chance,” he said.

“We’ve had him 19 months and he’s won an average of $8000 every month, so he’s well and truly paid for himself and he should have won more.” ESTIMATES hearings yesterday failed to shed further light on Racing Queensland’s black hole, with Racing Minister Bill Byrne accused of treating the industry with contempt.

RQ interim chief executive Ian Hall told The Courier-Mail yesterday “total income for financial year 2015-16 is $197.398 million, which represents a $3.795 million (1.88 per cent) fall on 2013-14 levels based on a like-for-like basis”.

But when the new $15 million fixed fee from UBET is married with the forecast $28 million black hole, it represents an expense explosion of $39 million from two years ago.

Prizemoney increases account for about $20 million of that figure and even allowing $4 million for increased QTIS and Magic Millions day, it still leaves $15 million in new expenses that Byrne failed to account for yesterday.

Opposition racing spokeswoma­n Jann Stuckey said the industry deserved more thorough answers than Byrne was willing to table yesterday.

“How much more damage is Bill Byrne going to do to this industry?” she said.

“Does he want to extinguish it forever?

“When asked to table Racing Queensland’s draft budget documents that have been the cornerston­e of Labor’s reasoning behind the supposed blow- out in Racing Queensland’s budget, Minister Byrne refused.

“Right now this industry is in limbo.

“The racing industry relies on confidence and engagement but this Minister has failed on both counts.’’

Yesterday’s hearing also heard the make-up of the $6 million in savings that Byrne has spoken of since Hall took his interim post in June.

Among them was a supposed $2.8 million in “planned expansion of RQ’s workforce” and $1.3 million in reducing RQ’s marketing expenditur­e “from levels previously planned”.

The former Racing Queensland board has consistent­ly said neither of those expenses had ever received approval.

Hall has held meetings with industry groups over the past month outlining the need to find $28 million in savings.

 ??  ?? CHESTNUT CHANCE: Dan and Chris Meagher with Harada Bay. Picture: Mark Calleja
CHESTNUT CHANCE: Dan and Chris Meagher with Harada Bay. Picture: Mark Calleja
 ??  ?? BLOWOUT: Racing Minister Bill Byrne at the hearing.
BLOWOUT: Racing Minister Bill Byrne at the hearing.
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