Column – Mollett's World, by DAVID MOLLETT


<p>Barrier ballots should be urgently reviewed – Geoff</p>

<p>FOUR-times champion trainer Geoff Woodruff says there needs to be an urgent review of how big-race draws are conducted following the pattern of shocking draws his horses – and those of a number of other Gauteng trainers – have received this season.</p>
<p>Woodruff&rsquo;s two Durban July hopes, Ravishing and Royal Air Force, both drew near the beachfront and Mike de Kock&rsquo;s three-year-old Kildonan also had a wide barrier.</p>
<p>“It seems certain horses always pull a bad draw,&rsquo;&rsquo; said Geoff yesterday. “While I&rsquo;m not suggesting there is any malpractice, if the computer keeps delivering wide draws for particular horses one has to question it. It appears to be anything but random.</p>
<p>“If it (the computer) is so fair, let us prove it is just bad luck. Loading the same race three times in a row could do this.</p>
<p>The outcome might be interesting. Someone – preferably not a computer expert – should be told how to load it. If it produced different draws, we would at least know it&rsquo;s totally fair.</p>
<p>“Certain horses get favourable draws all the time – Jay Peg is the perfect example. In contrast one of my top horses, Elusive Fort, unbelievably drew badly throughout his career. I wonder what it cost him in lost earnings?&rsquo;&rsquo;</p>
<p>Charles Laird, who could win his first trainers&rsquo; championship if Hunting Tower captures Saturday&rsquo;s Dubai Racing Club Champions Cup, will have cursed when he saw where his July hero drew for the Grade 1 race. So will have Mike because Kildonan will jump from close to the airport highway.</p>
<p>Said Charles: “I&rsquo;d hate to think that anything wasn&rsquo;t above board (in draws), but it&rsquo;s hard to accept that it happens to a certain horse time and again. OK, Hunting Tower drew well for the July, but badly for the Summer Cup, the J&amp;B Met, which was why we took him out, and also the Gommagomma Challenge.</p>
<p>“On Saturday, Anton says being drawn where he is will be like giving five-lengths start. But he&rsquo;s a horse who comes from behind so we&rsquo;ll have to hope for the best.&rsquo;&rsquo;</p>
<p>Was Charles optimistic of winning his first trainers&rsquo; championship? “Not really because we&rsquo;re pretty weak on Saturday. But whatever happens it&rsquo;s been a wonderful season and we might well have captured the country&rsquo;s `big three&rsquo;. We ran second in the Met, won the Challenge and then the July was the cherry on top. I haven&rsquo;t changed any plans with the horses to win the title – if we pull it off it&rsquo;ll be a bonus.</p>
<p>“Hunting Tower came out of the July so very well that I decided to accept on Saturday despite the draw. After this, he&rsquo;ll have a well-deserved four-month holiday.&rsquo;&rsquo;</p>
<p>I cannot remember a trainers&rsquo; championship going down to the wire like this one. Just a few hundred rand separates Charles, Mike and Geoff and it will be interesting to see if any bookmaker prices up on the outcome.</p>
<p>On Saturday at Clairwood Mike has two ante-post favourites in Kildonan and Gilded Minaret while Geoff&rsquo;s trump card is Argonaut in the Premier&rsquo;s Champion Stakes.</p>
<p>* * *</p>
<p>Checking my e-mails following my brief trip to rain-drenched UK and sun-drenched Greece, I nearly spilt my coffee over my pretty rugby writer colleague – one of the first in the business, I believe.</p>
<p>“We are delighted to announce Clyde Basel has been appointed general manager of the Racing Association,&rsquo;&rsquo; was the statement from Merle Parker.</p>
<p>So, Merle, are we – particularly the few media guys! While Clyde&rsquo;s predecessor, Colin Gordon, looked after the press admirably, we will be looking to Mr Basel to go the extra mile.</p>
<p>Looking at the overseas racing programme for the rest of the year, I see we have York in August, then there&rsquo;s the Arc in Paris in October and, of course, a favourite trip for Charl Pretorius and me, the Melbourne Cup in November.</p>
<p>It is time, Clyde, to spread the news further than Dubai about SA racing – we will, as usual, do it for a pittance and might even travel economy!</p>
<p>The RA press release quotes Clyde as saying that his “primary focus will be on our members as well as to attract new owners to the game&rsquo;&rsquo;.</p>
<p>The latter is a tough task and I feel he would be doing racing a favour if he can bring more happiness to owners. It is them, not punters, who are the backbone of racing and their interests should be paramount.</p>
<p>Owners should be able to enjoy a day at the races without being jostled and hassled for money. Many will welcome Kelvin&rsquo;s move to have an entry fee to his popular bar at Turffontein from the beginning of next month.</p>
<p>No one has yet asked when Clyde is going to take up golf, a popular pastime of many Racing Association members. I can see it now. At the annual RA “Masters&rsquo;&rsquo; in October we will hear the following: “On the tee now is Sergio Basel.&rsquo;&rsquo;</p>
<p>Well, at least they are the same height – if not the same weight!</p>

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