Railton sacked in Qld racing bombshell

Steve Railton's position as Chairman of Stewards has been made redundant by the Queensland Racing Board in a bombshell announcement.

Steve Railton's position as Chairman of Stewards has been made redundant by the Queensland Racing Board in a bombshell announcement on Monday.

Railton's job was abolished along with 10 others in an unprecedented purge of positions within the ruling body's administration.

QRB Chairman Bob Bentley denied a personality clash was behind Railton's removal.

"The redundancies resulting from the abolishment of these positions are not reflective on the integrity or performance of the stewards or other people involved," Bentley said.

"These tough decisions have been made by the Board to ensure the industry's peak body is lean, accountable, and responsive to the needs of its stakeholders."

However, within hours of losing his job Railton released a brief statement in which he expressed his shock at today's announcement by the QRB.

"I am bitterly disappointed that my 28 years of service with the Queensland racing industry has been terminated in such a fashion," Railton said.

"I also feel for the other members of staff who have been cast aside today."

Railton said he has received overwhelming support from industry participants.

"All I can hope is that I have earned the respect of the people who count most in racing and that is all those who are involved at the coalface of the industry," he said.

"I have at all times striven to uphold and protect their interests as well as those of the industry at large."

Railton's position will be replaced by the creation of a new Integrity Manager role which will be advertised nationally.

The successful recruit is expected to begin work in six to eight weeks.

"The Integrity Manager will oversee all regulatory functions, including stewarding and provide a separation of race day control and management," Bentley said.

Bentley acknowledges there will be unrest within the industry following today's announcement.

"I am aware of the angst that is out there and these decisions are never arrived at lightly but they have to be made in the best interests of the industry as a whole," he said.

Bentley said the restructure was in response to the new Racing Act tabled in State Parliament earlier this year.

"The restructure will save in excess of $2 million in operating costs, building on the $1 million shaved off the QRB budget after it took control last year," he said.

The overhaul was also created to rein in a massive blowout in the QRB's budget from $4.01 million in 1997 to $10.72 million in 2002.

The QRB is also grappling with another difficult industry issue with stakeholders anxiously seeking a boost in prizemoney.

"Prizemoney levels will be addressed when we complete Sky Channel negotiations and turnover projections for the next financial year," Bentley said.

"To make prizemoney commitments at this stage would be premature."


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