The scuffle between trainer Richard Laming and jockey Noel Callow at the Cranbourne trials recently, left both participants a little lighter in the pocket.
Stewards ruled that Laming instigated the incident, and fined him a hefty $2500. Despite the fact that Callow retaliated with a left rip to the body, he was fined a more lenient $300.
I recall one “beauty” at Hawkesbury in the 1960’s when colourful trainer Morrie Anderson, wearing his trademark bow tie, was furious with Bill Camer’s ride on one of his team in a minor race. Morrie was waiting in the birdcage when the jockey returned, and the tirade that followed had to be quelled by the stewards.I can still hear old Morrie casting aspersions on Camer’s parentage, as the jockey bolted for cover.
I remember a similar altercation at a Canterbury Saturday meeting in the late 1980’s. Shane Dye had been beaten on a well fancied horse called Pabulum, sparking the ire of Dr. Geoff Chapman, a trainer with a big voice, and an even bigger vocabulary. “Doc’s” voice was audible from quite some distance, as he gave Dye the best “spray” the jockey had copped since arriving from New Zealand. Again the stewards had to intervene to eliminate the possibility that the former Wallaby wasn”t tempted to throw the 50kg Kiwi over the birdcage fence.
But the “daddy” of all the jockey/trainer clashes involved the two biggest names in Australian racing in the mid 1960’s. Tommy Smith and George Moore argued heatedly about riding tactics for a horse called Oakland before the Doncaster Hcp. Tommy wanted him near the lead. George thought his prospects were brighter if ridden more quietly, and was absolutely fuming by the time he mounted up and took Oakland onto the track.
I still wonder how he escaped serious consequences for his actions during the preliminary.
He trotted the horse up to the furlong pole, before turning to make his way around to the mile barrier. In full view of a huge crowd he suddenly “took off” and galloped Oakland full bore right around to the back straight. George was still red in the face as he took the horse into the gates.
As if Oakland hadn’t already run his race, Moore did as Smith had demanded, and rode the horse forward finishing nearer last than first.
Imagine the mood when George dismounted and walked past Smith on his way back to the jockey’s room. The argument flared again with a barrage of unpleasantries from both parties.
The story dominated the sports pages for several days, with Moore declaring that his services would no longer be exclusive to Tulloch Lodge.
When other trainers learned the great G.Moore was available for rides the following Saturday he was swamped by outside stables. As if to rub salt into Tommy’s wounds he won three races and rode like a man inspired. George’s wife Iris told me that it was T.J who instigated a truce.
“George and I were having a quiet night at home when the front doorbell rang. I opened the door to see a rather uneasy Tommy Smith standing there. He stepped inside and told George that this whole thing was ridiculous, and that their partnership should resume immediately”.
I believe Tommy’s plea was only half an apology, but it’s a good thing it happened because I’m sure George would have held out for a bit longer.
Friction between trainers and jockeys is inevitable.Trainers live with their horses seven days a week and get very close to them. They are also very conscious of their obligations to owners.
Jockeys in many cases struggle with the effects of wasting, and the pressures associated with the fierce competition on the racetrack. Once in a while, a collision course is unavoidable.
I think they’re entitled to the occasional “dummy spit”.