Jenny - Clean

RACING Victoria stewards have closed the book on the controversial Baron Archer saga with no charges to be laid after a lengthy investigation.

MICHAEL MANLEY reports in the HERALD SUN that stewards released a statement on Monday night that their seven-week investigation into the running of a five-horse race at Echuca on March 8 and related betting activity had been completed.

It stated that following detailed consideration of the evidence obtained, no charges would be laid in relation to the betting on Baron Archer.

Chief steward Terry Bailey said there was insufficient evidence to proceed with any other charges but defended the investigation.

“We could have sat back and done nothing and looked the other way and whistled Dixie but we felt we had enough reasons to open an investigation,” Bailey said.

“Basically we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Either way we’d attract criticism,” he said.

Bailey added that if new evidence came to light they could reopen the investigation.

Stewards said they had interviewed a number of licensed participants and analysed a number of betting accounts with various wagering service providers and had also examined phone records.

The Baron Archer investigation began in early May when it was revealed the horse had been laid to lose $260,000 on Betfair.

Baron Archer, who is part-owned by Gary Ablett, resumed in a field of five at Echuca on Sunday, March 8 and finished third after starting at $2.80.

Stewards quizzed controversial figure Dan Nikolic and also questioned Ben Melham who rode the galloper over his phone record.

Racehorse owner Nick Ectoros was also grilled by stewards.

Nikolic’s girlfriend Tania Hyett has been charged by stewards for laying bets on horses trained by her former employer Robert Smerdon.

Hyett was later dismissed by Aquanita Racing.

RV chief steward Terry Bailey said Hyett was not charged in regard to laying bets on Baron Archer but they discovered her other betting activity due to that investigation.

The only casualty in the affair was Baron Archer’s trainer Jason Warren who was fined $17,500 by the Racing And Appeals Disciplinary Board for not informing stewards the galloper had had a throat operation and for providing false and misleading evidence.

Baron Archer was taken from Warren’s stables to another Mornington trainer Wez Hunter.

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