We are not sure who came up with the title for last Saturday's handout on the scrapping of qualifying trials but there was a nice tweak of spin-doctoring to it. The 'New Initiatives on Qualifying Trials' will continue the practice, according to the release, but to all intents and purposes quali-trials are finished. The 'new' qualifying trials will not feature handicap, will no longer be run on race days in front of fans, need only one unraced horse to be named qualifying trials, and by and large will look much the same as other barrier trials except that they must be on turf and consist of Class Four horses. The fact is that qualifying trials never achieved what they set out to achieve - give punters the low down on the new horses so they would not be afraid to bet on or against them when they appeared - and were never going to do so. The worst thing that happened to them was Triumphant Unicorn winning the first one then winning his debut race easily. That led to a string of qualifying trial winners going out with unrealistic expectations. In the 13-month history of the qualis, only the trial winners Triumphant Unicorn, Captain Happy, Tri Magic and Namjong Hero were able to win their first race as well, and the concept was more misleading than if it had never happened. Not that the trials didn't see any nice horses produced - they did, but no more than the normal trial process and a number of them needed a few races to get their act together, by which time punters had been able to assess them anyway. The rules almost required horses to try to win or obtain the best placing in these trials but it was a black and white answer to a grey question, and put more pressure on lesser horses - most horses - than on those with talent. Get any group of unraced horses and run them and somebody has to win regardless of whether any has ability, and, since the punters didn't know any of them, there was no guideline. One suggestion was that the club should have kept a sound, low-grade retired sprinter in training simply for the purpose of running in qualifying trials. The performance of the new horses could then have been graded against the club horse for purposes of qualification and form analysis. The idea might have had merit and is some sort of version of what the club has now switched to - ensuring that new horses trial against the sort of opposition they will meet in Class Four. But there will always be new horses and punters are savvy enough to be wary - champions often lose their first race and clod hoppers have been known to win theirs. The only way to fix it from a turnover point of view is to have fewer first starters.