Jenny - Clean
 

BEN CURRIE FOUND GUILTY OF 12 RACE DAY TREATMENT CHARGES

THE Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards have today found Toowoomba Trainer Ben Currie guilty of 12 race day treatment charges under the Australian Rules of Racing.

The Thoroughbred Trainer appeared at a reconvened Inquiry in Brisbane on 11 and 12 March 2019 where he faced 14 alleged breaches of the rules of racing, two charges made in the alternative were not continued.  

Mr Currie has been found guilty of five breaches of AR 178E (race day treatment without permission) Mr Currie as the trainer is guilty of causing the administration of a medication to five horses on 24 March 2018, the same day they raced at Doomben and Gatton.

He has also been found guilty of a further seven charges under AR.178E (race day treatment without permission) for causing the administration of a medication to seven horses on 7 April 2018, the same day they were engaged to race at Toowoomba.

Stewards have asked for submissions in regard to penalty.

 

LACHLAN BUYS INTO CORPORATES – BETEASY TO BE RENAMED FOXBET?

IF the rumour mill is right – and it so often is – Lachlan Murdoch is about to tap into a pot of gold of the gambling industry by buying a major share in a leading corporate bookmaking business.

Insiders say Matthew Tripp, the CEO of BetEasy and former owner of Sportsbet, has sold his majority stake to Murdoch.

If you are to believe the rumours, BetEasy will be renamed FOXBET.

Here’s hoping for their sake Ladbrokes have an option to extend their contract to sponsor (finance) Form Guides in the Murdoch Media – remember all that advertorial propaganda we read about how wonderful the new publication would be when they took over from the TABs.

Lachlan, like his dad Rupert, has always had an eye, or the wise financial advisors, to find a good investment and there is none better than a corporate bookmaking business in Australia where the powers-that-be, including the Government, basically let them run their businesses as they like and close down accounts of those punters who are too successful.

Just on the subject of that how hypocritical was it of some corporates, spearheaded by Sportsbet, taking the ‘silly’ step of paying out all their Federal Election bets early, declaring Labor past the post.

Sportsbet issued a Media Release stating that 70 per cent of all bets it had received went to Bill Shorten being the next Prime Minister, with odds tightening to just $1.16.

Sportsbet described it as ‘Winx-like odds’ and decided to pay out early – to the tune of $1.3 million. “Our punters have spoken through their bets,” it said.

If only some big punters were as wrong when it came to horse racing the corporates wouldn’t have to close down accounts of those who are too successful which makes the decision to pay out early on a ‘loser’ all the more hypocritical.

Considering the perceived support the Murdoch Media gave to the Morrison Government in the election, can we expect some quid pro quo and next to nothing to be done to rein in the corporate bookies in the future regardless of how many tens of millions in profits that flow off-shore and are lost to one of our biggest industries – perhaps more notice would be taken if it was mining!

 

MARK CURRIE GETS SUSPENDED SENTENCE AFTER PLEADING GUILTY 

TOOWOOMBA trainer Mark Currie has pleaded guilty to two race day administration charges.

By agreement between the parties Mr Currie pleaded guilty to that without the permission of the stewards he caused the administration of a medication to horses on 24 March and 7 April, 2018 on the same day they raced at Toowoomba and Brisbane.

Mr Currie has been suspended for 12 months on each charge, wholly suspended for 12 months and fined $7500.

A restriction has been placed on his licence for a period of three months; until 16 August the maximum number of horses he can train is 40.

Mr Currie is also unable to train those horses that were formerly trained by Currie Racing except for an agreed list of horses that are owned or part owned by Donna and Mark Currie.

At the expiry of the three month period, the transfer of any horses will be at the discretion of the Stewards.

Today’s settlement is the result of the QCAT appeal of Mr Currie’s two year disqualification in May last year of 16 race day treatment related charges.

Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said the decision to bring these proceedings to finality resulted in part from legal advice about the inability of the Commission to make key witnesses available due to ongoing health issues.

“In these circumstances I considered that an indeterminate further lengthy delay in these proceedings was not in the interests of racing and a negotiated settlement was appropriate.

“Today’s decision brings to four the number of Currie Racing employees who have been convicted over breaches of the rules of racing at the Currie Racing stable.”

 

CARNIVAL OF FLOWERS DATE MORE SUITABLE FOR TOOWOOMBA FEATURE

VETERAN race-goers still insist that the Toowoomba Weetwood meeting should never have been moved from the Show Holiday while there are those who say it should have been trialled as a feature Sunday before being given a walk-up start into a primary Winter Carnival date.

Regardless of those opinions, Racing Queensland should be applauded for moving the Weetwood and Toowoomba Cup away from the start of the Winter Carnival where one could argue it has been out of place.

Here are the welcome changes announced yesterday in a Media Release:

THE time-honoured Weetwood Handicap will headline a Queensland spring carnival in 2020 in a major change to the racing calendar.

With the Weetwood traditionally staged in April, the $150,000 feature and Toowoomba Cup will shift to September 26 next year to coincide with the city’s Carnival of Flowers festival and serve as a key feature of a new-look calendar in the Sunshine State.

In addition to the Weetwood, a series of listed races will be conducted across South East Queensland – both before and after - ahead of the major features in the southern states.

With hundreds of thousands of people drawn to the Darling Downs for the Carnival of Flowers each year, Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said re-scheduling the Weetwood and Toowoomba Cup to coincide with the iconic festival would pay dividends for the entire industry.

“We’ve long coveted a spring carnival of our own and in 2020 we will have one,” Mr Parnell said.

“The Darling Downs plays such a pivotal role in our racing and equine breeding activities, and with the region in full bloom during the Carnival of Flowers, running the Weetwood and Toowoomba Cup in September will ensure they are showcased as one of the highlights of our own spring carnival.

“This will allow Queensland participants to campaign at home prior to heading south, but will also provide an additional avenue for those that attend our winter racing carnival to spell and resume in SEQ that hasn’t previously existed.

“It’s a concept that we look forward to growing and expanding.”

After agreeing to the calendar change late last week, Toowoomba Turf Club Chairman Kent Woodford said the decision to shift the Darling Downs’ premier race day to September would provide the opportunity to springboard the event onto the ‘national racing landscape.’

“Next September’s Weetwood will be featured in a new-look Queensland spring carnival – including other South East Queensland clubs,” Mr Woodford said.

“The Club has held consultation with Racing Queensland, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Toowoomba Regional Council, and is delighted to lock the schedule in for the second weekend of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers event in 2020.”

TTC CEO Blair Odgers said Racing Queensland’s proposal for a spring carnival was well considered and provided additional support in the new timeslot.

“We’ve secured a transition package and additional marketing support, which will ensure the long-term growth and sustainability of the region’s pinnacle racing event,” Mr Odgers said.

“The change will also provide the opportunity to grow our Weetwood Week of activities and link them with the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, to attract more visitors over the 10 days.”

RQ will make additional announcements in relation to the 2020 spring carnival ahead of the release of the next racing calendar.

 

VO ROGUE GETS OVERDUE INDUCTION INTO AUSTRALIAN HALL OF FAME

THE greatest show on turf, Vo Rogue, headlines the 2019 inductees into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

Earlier today, Racing Queensland, in conjunction with the Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame and Racing Australia, officially unveiled the six-time Group 1 winner, who thrilled crowds in the late ‘80s with his front-running feats, as one of 10 inductees alongside Balmerino, Hall Mark and So You Think.

Hugh Bowman, the man synonymous with piloting Winx to her world record accomplishments including 25 consecutive Group 1’s, will also take his place in the pantheon of Australian racing greats after delivering one final victory lap aboard the wonder mare in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick last month.  

Four-time Cox Plate winner Brent Thomson is the only other jockey to be inducted in 2019, while leading trainers Des McCormick and John Meagher will also have the prestigious honour bestowed upon them.

Former VRC Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards, Pat Lalor, and the Queensland-based Williams brothers, Sir Edward and Sir Sydney, round out the class of 2019 ahead of Friday night’s formal ceremony in Brisbane.

A two-time Australian Cup winner, Vo Rogue electrified crowds across the nation like few before – or since – with his catch-me-if-you-can brand of racing.

After a modest start to his racing career, the bay gelding went on a three-year tear as he secured 20 wins at Group 1 and Group 2 level including a Futurity Stakes, three Orr Stakes, two Turnbull Stakes, two Blamey Stakes and two St George Stakes.

In all, Vo Rogue recorded 26 wins and 23 placings from 83 starts.

“He had a big heart and just had a lot of natural ability,” Cyril Small, who rode Vo Rogue to 22 wins, said.

“His front-running tactics sparked people up…I think racing needed that at the time.”

While Bowman’s name will be forever linked with Winx, the 38-year-old has long been regarded as one of the world’s best riders with 88 Group 1 wins across Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.

A four-time Cox Plate winner in his own right, Bowman was awarded the Longines World’s Best Jockey Award in 2017 after scoring in 10 of the top-100 races across the globe.

Bowman was also aboard So You Think, a fellow 2019 inductee, when the 10-time Group 1 winner secured his first black-type win in the 2009 Gloaming Stakes at Rosehill.

“It’s an absolute privilege and more than a bit humbling,” Bowman said.

“To be honest, off the back of the emotional rollercoaster with Winx, who has played such a significant part of my time as a professional jockey, it’s hard to put into words.

“Along with Winx, I’ve enjoyed a significant amount of international success and that doesn’t come without sacrifices by myself and my family.”

The Williams brothers’ legacy lives on in Far North Queensland with Sir Sydney the driving force behind the two-day Cairns Amateurs Racing Carnival which continues to thrive to this day.

While Sir Edward was also a major contributor to the success of the Cairns Amateurs, he served as Chairman of the Queensland Turf Club from 1980 to 1991 and sat on the committee from 1966 to 1993.

A black-tie induction ceremony will be held at Moda Events Portside on Friday night to celebrate the occasion.

 

INTEGRITY EMBARRASSMENT COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IN QLD 

INTEGRITY in Queensland racing has been described as an ‘embarrassment’, ‘a laughing stock’ and even ‘next to non-existent’ but the bottom line is the current fiasco could have been avoided.

Had a former RQ Board linked to a previous Government accepted the opportunity to recruit two of the best racing 'policemen' in the country it would never have reached the stage where the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission is regarded by many as a bunch of ‘keystone cops’.

For some inexplicable reason a high profile Board Chairman of the past rejected – or was convinced by industry identities with influence – to walk away from the chance to have then RV Chairman of Stewards Terry Bailey and his Head of Integrity Dale Brown move to Queensland.

Bailey and Brown were offered in a package deal at a time when RQ was looking for a new Chief Steward and Head of Integrity before QRIC came into existence. Both were subsequently head-hunted and moved on – Bailey to the Chief Steward’s job in Singapore (ironically he replaced the man who took over in Queensland) and Brown went to Greyhound Racing NSW.

None of the current nonsense – like semaphoring the wrong place-getters or sending horses around in arace with the wrong saddle cloth numbers – would have been tolerated under their watch. The Chief Steward at the venue where that occurred would have been sacked.

More importantly, nor would some of the shenanigans that seems to occur regularly on race days that punters say has forced them to ban betting on racing in Queensland which they have aptly described as a ‘Wealth Hazard’.

To this day we continue to see favorites miss the start, sit wide, run up backsides – all accepted as reasonable excuses for getting beaten. Sure, it happens, but punters question whether it is a coincidence as often as it does.

Bailey and Brown were at the forefront of the cobalt saga and other major dramas in Victoria and inherited their share of criticism for the way some were handled but they exposed what many believed was happening elsewhere but not being policed. Danny Nikolic caused Bailey many headaches but that top hoop is never heard of these days.

Sadly, the politics of the situation in Queensland saw a stand-off between veteran stewards and the 'coppers' running the newly-established Integrity Commission to the extent where it has degenerated to the current state.

Setting the Currie stable situation aside – and the bad publicity it has cost racing in Queensland not only from some high profile stakeholders but also because of the way the system has bogged down the hearing of charges, the fact that the courts are over-turning stewards’ convictions is becoming frustrating for participants and observers. It's got to the stage where some believe that legal loop-holes - and not guilt or innocence - are the deciding factor in the determining of serious charges.

Racing in Queensland is now a bigger laughing stock than the ‘trots’ - who would have thought that would ever be possible? The mobile start dramas on Saturday night – like most other controversies at Albion Park – seems to have dodged publicity in the mainstream media.

Not that it matters much – less and less punters want to bet on the trots in Queensland these days and even less are interested in patronizing a minor code that pales into insignificance with the dogs despite the nail in the coffin greyhound racing copped a few years back. 

But standby for harness racing to be dragged into a major investigation involving a controversial figure who was once a high flyer at both the trots and gallops in Queensland courtesy of some 'whistle-blowers' who have put a strong case way beyond QRIC to some higher powers calling for action to be taken. Watch this space! 

        

 

BEN CURRIE DISQUALIFIED FOR FOUR YEARS ON TWO CHARGES

TOOWOOMBA thoroughbred trainer Ben Currie has been disqualified effective immediately for four years after Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) stewards considered submissions on penalty after finding him guilty today (Friday 3 May) of two breaches of AR175(a).

Mr Currie is guilty of engaging in an improper action following an investigation into text messages relating to the intention to use an electronic apparatus capable of affecting the performance of two horses.

Stewards today disqualified him for two years for each offence, to be served cumulatively.

The breaches relate to the horses Massive Attack in 2015 and Said Written in 2016 when Mr Currie was their trainer.

Stewards have directed Mr Currie to feed, water and care for his horses, exercising them by hand walking or on a walking machine.

He has until 4pm on 17 May 2019 to have all of the horses in his care dispersed to trainers subject to the approval of the stewards.

 

A FEW HYPOTHETICALS TO CONSIDER IN THE CASE OF BEN CURRIE

NOT for one moment are we at LETSGOHORSERACING making any judgment in relation to the allegations made by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission against trainer Ben Currie, but let’s play hypotheticals.

The jury is out in racing’s Court of Public Opinion but their decision doesn’t count. Currie steadfastly maintains his innocence amid allegations that he is a victim of ‘tall poppy syndrome’ and that this is a witch-hunt by the QRIC and Racing Queensland.     

Time will tell but we all know how brilliant his legal counsel Jim Murdoch QC is when it comes to matters of racing and how he has found legal loopholes enabling Houdini acts that looked like a mission impossible for stakeholders in big strife in the past.

What happens if Murdoch and his legal team prove to QCAT or even a higher court that the seizure of items from the Currie stable was unlawful and therefore the evidence they are relying on to convict him is ruled out?

Currie walks. Murdoch makes application for costs – which must be huge. RQ pays the price – and the industry is back where it started – and arguably even more broke than at present.

As we said at the outset this is all hypothetical. But we have the Labor Government in Queensland – under Parliamentary privilege – supporting the powers being invoked against Currie on the basis of ensuring public confidence in the racing industry in this State.

RQ invoked a new Rule refusing the nomination of his horses last weekend on the basis that it is their ‘role to manage and operate codes of racing in a way that ensured public confidence in the industry.’

What does the future hold for QRIC or new Chief Steward Peter Chadwick if Murdoch produces another Houdini act – this time for Ben Currie? Where does the Brisbane Racing Club stand in its decision to ban him from attending Doomben and Eagle Farm when he has horses racing?

Racing Minister Stirling Hinchiliff told Parliament:

Racing Queensland sought independent advice about their powers under the revised Australian Rules of Racing and conducted a process where they sought information as to why they should not use their power under AR55 to refuse to accept nominations from a particular trainer. After receiving that information, Racing Queensland then made a determination that it was in the interests of racing to refuse those nominations.

I think it is very important that everyone understands that there are some elements of this dynamic, of this area, that have moved on from the time of the MacSporran report.

On the issue of QRIC, I have to say that the suggestion that QRIC is failing is absolutely 100 per cent bunkum. The simple fact is that, if QRIC were not in existence as a result of this Government’s actions as a result of the MacSporran report, then the very complex case like the one that the Shadow Minister is alluding to would simply not have been undertaken.

The strong powers and resources that were given to QRIC are the ones that give them the ability to conduct much more complex work than the old system would ever have allowed.

Shadow Racing Minister John Paul Langbroke told Parliament:

Racing has to have integrity and to be run efficiently. The LNP blames Labor for the mess that has been created by its three racing ministers in the last four years.

What does the Minister say to Aquis, a sponsor of the Gold Coast Turf Club and one of Queensland’s biggest horse breeders and owners, which said that it will not race horses in Queensland until integrity issues are resolved?

What does the Minister say to David Hayes, Tom Dabernig and his own son, one of Australia’s premier trainers, who also want Racing Queensland to tidy up their act to make people feel they are on a level playing field?

The Minister dismissed the Royal Commission chaired by Alan MacSporran QC by saying that we have ‘moved on’ since 2015 because of the decision that was made for the integrity part of QRIC to be administered by Racing Queensland.

The Minister has dismissed the Royal Commission recommendations simply because, once Labor set up QRIC, the way it had set up the judicial processes was inappropriate.

That is why the Minister has had to give some sort of direction to Racing Queensland to invoke a rule to try to stop someone from nominating their horses.

Although the Labor Government established QRIC, it is now scrambling to recover Queensland’s racing industry’s credibility for Australian trainers, owners and breeders. The concerns that we have in Queensland have continued.

Since I last spoke in the House about this issue, there was an administrative blunder that led to the incorrect registration of a jockey at Ipswich. I was with the Minister at the Weetwood Handicap in Toowoomba when the wrong horse was judged to have run fourth. Subsequently, betting agencies paid out on two fourths. Seriously, the horse that was judged to have come fourth actually came eighth! What a joke!

Recently, the Commissioner overturned a decision on using a twitch after peak industry bodies informed QRIC that it is humane when it is applied properly to subdue a horse for short-use situations.

We have QRIC investigators flying to interview stewards far from Brisbane. They are part-timers, so they were not there when the stewards arrived. That was all on the public purse.

Seriously, we need to have the LNP back in as the racing party for Queensland.’

One could mount a serious argument that whatever happens to Ben Currie, his image is forever tainted by the innuendo and publicity associated with this long-running saga.

Where do those trainers, spearheaded by Robbie Heathcote – and there are plenty of them – stand if Currie is cleared of any wrong-doing? After what has been said – and done in some cases – they can hardly continue to race against him but what choice would they have.

There are bound to be race day repercussions that could have serious implications for all involved and that needs a strong team of stewards to intervene or ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. Sadly, we don’t have that – just a Dad’s Army that should have been retired long ago backed by an inexperienced bunch who will continue to make mistakes that cause Racing Queensland to be a bigger laughing stock than it already is.

What does this whole affair – and the way it has been handled – do for the image of racing in Queensland? We don’t have to answer that. It’s obvious.

As for Ben Currie – who might tongue-in-cheek refer to himself as The Gingerbread Man – the future remains clouded. If he does survive the fight of his life to salvage what looked to be a great training career, the best thing he could do is move interstate and start afresh. It’s not as though he doesn’t have the confidence to take on the best in the land – just ask him!   

 

HINCHLIFF BACKS RQ ACTION IN REJECTING CURRIE NOMINATIONS

RACING Minister Stirling Hinchliff has told State Parliament that the rejection of nominations from the Ben Currie stable was only made possible because Racing Queensland was now the administrators in terms of the nominations and acceptance process.

Hinchliff denied RQ was doing the job of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and gave the establishment of that body a thumbs up adding that any suggestions QRIC was a failure was ‘absolutely 100 per cent bunkum’.

The Racing Minister concluded his response in answer to a question from Shadow Racing Minister John Paul Langbroek with a back-hander for the previous LNP Government.

“There are those opposite who are doing nothing but talk down the industry and talk down the code. I will never forget that it was the bungling from those on the other side of the House that led us to having to fix Eagle Farm,” Hinchliff said.

Here is an extract from Hansard of what was stated in Parliament:

Mr LANGBROEK: My question without notice is to the Minister for Racing. Will the Minister advise why Racing Queensland is doing the integrity job of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, expressly contravening a Royal Commission recommendation of Alan MacSporran QC?

Mr HINCHLIFF: I thank the Shadow Minister for the question.

The Palaszczuk Government is absolutely committed to ensuring integrity in racing in Queensland. That is why we established QRIC in 2016 in response to the MacSporran report.

Equally, Racing Queensland as the principal racing authority are also the administrators in terms of the nominations and acceptances process.

I can advise the House that Racing Queensland sought independent advice about their powers under the revised Australian Rules of Racing and conducted a process where they sought information as to why they should not use their power under AR55 to refuse to accept nominations from a particular trainer. After receiving that information, Racing Queensland then made a determination that it was in the interests of racing to refuse those nominations.

I think it is very important that everyone understands that there are some elements of this dynamic, of this area, that have moved on from the time of the MacSporran report.

On the issue of QRIC, I have to say that the suggestion that QRIC is failing is absolutely 100 per cent bunkum. The simple fact is that, if QRIC were not in existence as a result of this Government’s actions as a result of the MacSporran report, then the very complex case like the one that the Shadow Minister is alluding to would simply not have been undertaken.

The strong powers and resources that were given to QRIC are the ones that give them the ability to conduct much more complex work than the old system would ever have allowed.

For those opposite to stand in this place or on social media and claim that the system that has progressed this case to where it is now is failing is utterly misleading and damaging to the reputation of racing in this state.

As we kick off another fantastic Winter Racing Carnival with increased prize money and upgraded races, there are those opposite who are doing nothing but talk down the industry and talk down the code.

I will never forget that it was the bungling from those on the other side of the House that led us to having to fix Eagle Farm. We will see a great outcome and increased investment in infrastructure that will deliver a tremendous industry that will continue to perform. I encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy the fantastic Winter Racing Carnival.

 
 

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