BEN CURRIE DISQUALIFIED AGAIN – ‘WARNED OFF’ SIGNAL SOON DUE?

QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) stewards have today disqualified Toowoomba trainer Ben Currie for three years and fined him $45,000 after he was found guilty last week of five prohibited substance charges.

Mr Currie brought five thoroughbred horses to race with prohibited substances in their systems.

Wicked Trilogy was found with meloxicam in its system on 2 December 2017 when it raced at Kilcoy, Shakira was found to have testosterone in excess of the accepted concentration in its system when it raced on 28 January 2018 at Toowoomba, and Karaharaga was found to have 17-methylmorphinan-3-ol in its system when it raced on 6 July 2018 at Rockhampton.

Dreamscope was found to have cocaine and benzolecgonine in its system when it raced at Toowoomba on 16 September 2018 and Eight Over was found to have cocaine, methylecgonine and benzolecgonine in its system when it raced on 2 February 2019 at Toowoomba.

Today’s disqualification period is additional to periods previously imposed on Mr Currie and will be served at the expiration of those.

Mr Currie has previously been disqualified for causing race day treatment (two years) and two and half years for two charges of 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. This brings the total period of disqualification to seven and a half years.

 

RACING AUSTRALIA AGAIN CONFIRMS ITS 'TOOTHLESS' TIGER STATUS

FAILURE of Racing Australia to buy into the carnival turf war between New South Wales and Victoria has confirmed what many in the industry feared – that the sport's major administrative body is a ‘toothless tiger’.

CEO Barry O’Farrell has denied RA isn’t doing enough to keep Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys in check and argued that the growing rivalry between the States has its benefits despite the tensions.

Melbourne-born O’Farrell, a former policeman, became Premier of NSW in 2011 when the Liberals won Government in a landslide. Because of past associations there are those who maintain he is too close to V’landys to dare to ask the man who has become the most influential racing official in the country to back off.

Only time will tell what affect the new super rich races programmed by NSW to clash with major features in Victoria will have.

One thing’s for sure though the Victoria Spring Carnival will continue to dwarf the popularity of anything NSW has to offer. ‘Pay the big money’ and they will come certainly doesn’t apply to racegoers at the Sydney carnivals. Even the farwell day for the champion mare Winx could draw less than half the numbers that attend the Melbourne Cup annually.

HERE’S a story by MICHAEL COX in THE AGE relating to the RA stance:

RACING Australia chief executive Barry O'Farrell has responded to criticism the sports administrative body isn't doing enough to keep Racing NSW boss Peter V'Landys in line and suggested the fierce state competition had its benefits.

"We aren't an AFL commission and we aren't an NRL commission," he said.

"What I think people don't understand is that unlike those bodies, we don't have constitutions that enable them to direct clubs or determine draws or change things. That isn't in our ambit, it's not in our constitution.

"We are a business whose shareholders are the state racing bodies and we have been established to operate three principle businesses – the technology that sits across the racing industry from people lodging nominations, prizemoney delivery, and the Australian Stud Book.

"They are the three things the company was set up by the states to do. The shareholders are proportionate to the size of the states."

While ever the racing bodies are locked into state-by-state legislation when it comes to tax, which isn't likely to change, then a national racing body remains a pipe dream. So as Racing NSW and V'Landys launch a slew of new races – $45 million worth of them in total during the spring – all aimed at capturing attention during the period, it has become increasingly clear that Racing Australia isn't a referee for disgruntled administrators to complain to, or about.

Still, it hasn't stopped many asking "where is Racing Australian in all of this" and some critics have suggested that Racing Australia could use the limited authoritative powers it has to not allow Racing NSW the chance to attach "group race" status to races. But as O'Farrell pointed out, new races like the Everest and Golden Eagle fall outside that category anyway.

Deliberate schedule clashes from Sydney have raised the ire of some Melbourne administrators, most notably Victoria Racing Club chairperson Amanda Elliott, but O'Farrell preferred to look at the positives and innovation that has sprung out of the fierce interstate competition.

"I am not denying there haven't been issues, but I think everybody is responding and that means everybody is going to have to be kept on their toes," he said, pointing to Victoria's answer to the Everest, the $5 million All-Star Mile, as "a terrific initiative".

"I think the All-Star Mile is as significant an innovation in Australian racing as the Everest. We are not talking prizemoney here, we are talking innovation that is attracting new people and participants to the track," he said.

"I thought the All-Star Mile was a terrific initiative. Both of the big states are quite capable with their infrastructure and both have very good boards to deal with these issues, so while I understand that while ever there is competition that somebody might win and somebody might lose, for the industry it can be an overall positive.

"I think Victoria are doing really well, and if there is somebody across the other border who is trying to do better, well, he is doing that in New South Wales, not Victoria and just like state governments should compete and not obsess about each other, the industry should just make their state or their territory the best possible in the country."

Although in a position where he cannot pick sides, the Victorian-born O'Farrell has some kind words for the work of under-pressure Victorian officials.

"I do worry that Victorians don't give enough credit to the wonderful work racing minister Martin Pakula, Racing Victoria boss Giles Thompson and his board have done over the last couple of years," he said.

"They might be doing it a little bit quieter than New South Wales, but both of them are on the same path, which is to deliver to the racing public in both states a product that will entertain and bring people to the track."

 

 

RACING AUSTRALIA URGED TO INTERVENE IN BATTLE OF STATES

MOONEE VALLEY chief executive Michael Browell has called on Racing Australia to show more leadership after Racing NSW’s attack on the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

“I think they’ve been very silent through this period and there’s not a lot of leadership coming through,” Browell said. “You would have to question what is the future of Racing Australia at the moment.”

MICHAEL MANLEY reports for the HERALD SUN that Browell said he hoped new RA chairman Greg Nichols could unify the industry.

Browell queried RA on several issues including the coming spring carnival clashes between Melbourne and Sydney, Regu-Mate and quarantine.

Browell said in terms of programming he couldn’t understand why RA couldn’t be a body similar to the Japanese Racing Association.

He pointed out that the JRA at carnival times can run a feature meeting at Kyoto on a Saturday and then follow that the next day with another feature meeting at Tokyo.

Browell said the Japanese model at carnival time could be something which could be emulated in Australia.

Browell also said he couldn’t understand why the drug Regu-Mate was allowed in Sydney when it was banned throughout the world.

He called on RA and Racing Victoria to fix the dispute that has made it virtually impossible for a horse from Hong Kong to compete at the spring carnival due to the 180-day quarantine rule.

Browell said if he took off his administration cap, the increase in prizemoney for the Sydney carnival was a boon for owners, trainers and jockeys, but it was disappointing that the best races were being diluted.

Browell said he didn’t necessarily see the Sydney carnival as a negative.

“I do have a view that it would have been better for an industry, the outcome could have been better, if both NSW and Victoria worked together, you’d like a sense of co-operation and collaboration,” Browell said. “I’m not saying that I accept at this point in time that it (Racing NSW proposed changes) is a negative … a rising tide is good for all.”

 

 

WHY THE SECRECY TO INQUIRY INTO AN ALLEGED ASSAULT BY A HIGH PROFILE NSW TRAINER?

THE racing industry in NSW is buzzing with rumors alleging an Inquiry into serious allegations involving a high profile country-based trainer is being held behind closed doors.

For legal reasons we won’t name the trainer but the story goes that stewards in a major provincial centre have deemed the hearings ‘too hot to handle’ and forwarded the case to their bosses in Sydney.

The allegation centres on a serious assault to a licensee reportedly emanating from words he had with a female staffer working for the trainer in question.

The alleged victim of the assault is said to have given the women a dressing down after blaming her for moving markers on the track which he claimed created serious safety concerns.

The secret inquiries are said to have been opened after the licensee was allegedly assaulted when confronted by the high profile trainer over the situation.

If the stories doing the rounds of photographs of serious injuries suffered by the licensee that were supposedly tabled at the secret hearings are correct, the industry wants to know the reason for the secrecy.

The trainer in question is entitled to presumption of innocence and the stories spreading as far afield as Queensland and Victoria are doing his reputation no good either. His side of the story is entitled to be known.

Integrity in racing demands that situations like this are made public. Only last week Racing NSW stewards issued a Media Release concerning the disqualification of trainer Ron Johnson for six months, 12 months and two years on three charges relating to his conduct at the Albury racecourse in January.

The trainer at the centre of the latest serious allegations is far more high profile. Perhaps the Racing Media in NSW should get off their backsides and pursue this story which some of them must have heard. The first question they might ask is why all the secrecy and why the need to move the hearing to Sydney. 

LETSGOHORSERACING would be happy to print an unedited clarification of the situation from Racing NSW General Manager of Integrity and Chairman of Stewards Mark Van Gestel. His predecessor Ray Murrihy would have been on the front foot publicly on this by now.

 

FURTHER TWO-YEAR DISQUALIFICATION FOR TRAINER BEN CURRIE

QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) stewards have disqualified Toowoomba thoroughbred trainer Ben Currie for two years after he was found guilty of 12 race day treatment charges under the Australian Rules of Racing.

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

In a further seven charges under AR.178E Mr Currie caused the administration of a medication to seven horses on 7 April 2018, the same day they were engaged to race at Toowoomba.

Mr Currie will serve his two year disqualification in addition to the penalty reviewed today by the internal reviewer for breaching AR175(a).

Stewards are continuing to consider submissions on penalty after Mr Currie was found guilty of five prohibited substance charges earlier this week.

Internal review decision

The internal review of Mr Currie’s four year disqualification for two breaches of AR175(a) has confirmed last month’s guilty verdict and reduced his penalty to 30 months.

Mr Currie was found to have engaged 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.

 

 

BEN CURRIE GUILTY OF FIVE PROHIBITED SUBSTANCE CHARGES

TOOWOOMBA thoroughbred Trainer Ben Currie has been found guilty of five prohibited substance charges.

The analysists findings were confirmed by Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) stewards yesterday at a Brisbane inquiry.

Mr Currie as the trainer is guilty of bringing five thoroughbred horses to race with prohibited substances in their systems.

He brought Wicked Trilogy to race on 2 December 2017 at Kilcoy with meloxicam in its system, Mr Currie brought Shakira to race on 28 January 2018 at Toowoomba with testosterone in excess of the accepted concentration in its system, and he brought Karaharaga to race on 6 July 2018 at Rockhampton with 17-methylmorphinan-3-ol in its system.

Mr Currie also brought Dreamscope to race at Toowoomba on 16 September 2018 with cocaine and benzolecgonine in its system and he brought Eight Over to race on 2 February 2019 at Toowoomba, with cocaine, methylecgonine and benzolecgonine in its system.

Stewards have disqualified the horses from their respective races and race placings will be amended accordingly.

WICKED TRILOGY – Kilcoy 2 December 2017. 1st placing BM 58 Handicap.

SHAKIRA – Toowoomba 28 January 2018. 1st placing Fillies and Mares Maiden.

KARAHARAGA – Rockhampton 6 July 2018. 8th placing, Class 6.

DREAMSCOPE – Toowoomba 16 September 2018, 1st placing Benchmark 65.

EIGHT OVER- Toowoomba 2 February 2019, 1st placing Class 2

Submissions on penalty are due 4pm today with an outcome expected later this week.

 

IS A NO-NONSENSE TROUBLE-SHOOTER BEING HEAD-HUNTED FOR RQ?

PARLIAMENTARIANS on both sides of the House with concerns for the future of Queensland Racing are said to be secretly campaigning for the appointment of a well-known official from the past whose no-nonsense attitude would set a cat among the pigeons.

The industry has been waiting for months for a replacement to be announced for Mark Sowerby who did not seek a second term as the thoroughbred representative on the RQ Board.

A replacement for Sowerby had been earmarked but the selected candidate – rumored to be a prominent lawyer from south-east Queensland with an involvement in racing – was unable to take up the post because of work commitments.

The announcement by Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe that: ‘RQ’s new-look Board will implement a series of new reforms to build on the integrity, prizemoney and country racing reforms we’ve already implemented’ and the delay in appointing a replacement for Sowerby has prompted industry impatience and put pressure on both sides of politics.

With an election forthcoming Parliamentarians on both sides of the House have been encouraged to expedite the appointment process. Whilst even some of his one-time critics agree that there are now obvious positives from the Bob Bentley era, the same can’t be said for the time that Kevin Dixon was at the helm, apart from those close to the Liberal bunker who haven’t forgotten the statement from then Treasurer Tim Nicholls that the controversial track redevelopment at Eagle Farm would be completed within a year. Three years later it was still a disaster and ‘Tim the Toolman’s’ forecast goes down in the RQ ‘unforgettable file’ along with that of former LNP Racing Minister Steve Dickson that under his leadership racing in Queensland would wind up a furlong in front of the major southern States.

Stakeholders have had a gutful of the industry being used as a political football and emerging a joke in the eyes of the rest of the nation. They want a trouble-shooter appointed to the Board who has a knowledge of all sections of the industry, what needs to be done to right the ship and who he should call on for advice in achieving this goal.

The gentleman they are suggesting has spent a life-time in the sport. He has been a jockey, trainer, owner, breeder, handicapper, race-caller, a director at Board and Race Club level, served on an Appeals Board levels, has worked in the racing media and has operated thoroughbred spelling properties.

His name is PETER BREDHAUER and he has fans on both sides of politics in Queensland. He has been a fierce critic of what he calls ‘corruption’ in the racing media dating back decades and before some of his critics start chortling at the suggestion he could be appointed to the RQ Board they should fear it happening.

Bredhauer was there when the new track at Doomben was built (he was a member of the BRC Board at the time) and could have provided some timely advice during that embarrassing period of the Eagle Farm redevelopment debacle. Perhaps he could have a look at whether anyone did have a now jailed former racing high flyer build driveways for them at their homes allegedly using RQ funds.

He has been heavily involved in bush, provincial and city racing in a number of roles for many decades and knows the fine financial path that needs to be followed to ensure that all survive in some form.

Bredhauer is an outspoken critic of the way racing is currently being run, especially the drawn out Appeals process – he was once involved as an appointment to that Board.

Anyone who knows him doesn’t need to be told of his animosity toward what has happened in the past in some sections of the racing media and without crossing legal lines we will say no more except that an Inquiry headed by him could ensure what allegedly happened in the past could never occur in the future.

In a time when there are major conflicts of interest in the media, evidence has been heard at Racing Inquiries of betting intelligence on Press Box telephones and media access to the Jockeys’ Rooms during race meetings in the past, claims of big punters of today having people with media credentials relaying information before races to them using special technology and, in more recent times, unbelievable suggestions concerning sponsorship deals in a minor code, there is a need for someone like Bredhauer – with the help of a racing lawyer like Frank Martin – to conduct an overdue overhaul of the racing media in Queensland.

Bredhauer is known to have a close association with Neville Stewart, the Downs breeder and former Toowoomba Turf Club chairman who pioneered twilight racing at Clifford Park. Stewart has links to both sides of politics (from his days close to the top of the Liberal Party to his association with former Labor Racing Minister Bob Gibbs). Imagine if Stewart and Bredhauer were to conduct – on behalf of RQ – an independent inquiry into what has gone wrong in Downs racing – from integrity to officialdom.

Laugh if you like but it will take someone with the no-nonsense approach of a Peter Bredhauer who has the background that the RQ Board members don’t to right the good ship RQ Titanic before it hits another iceberg.

If the above doesn’t provoke some food for thought – or even give you something to smile about on a Monday morning leading up to the biggest meeting of the year in Queensland (yes it is better than Magic Millions), then perhaps it might jolt the Racing Minister into at long last appointing an acceptable identity as thoroughbred representative on the RQ Board.

         

QRIC MANAGER OF INTEGRITY INVESTIGATIONS MOVING TO VICTORIA

QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett has today accepted the resignation of Tracey Pelling, who has been serving in the role of QRIC Manager of Integrity Investigations since February 2018.

Prior to managing the Integrity Unit, Ms Pelling served as Officer-in-Charge of the Queensland Police Racing Crime Squad since 2016.

Ms Pelling is leaving Queensland to take up a leadership position with the Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner in Victoria after a competitive merit selection process.

Commissioner Barnett congratulated Ms Pelling on her appointment and thanked her for her years of service to racing integrity in Queensland.

“Ms Pelling has been involved in a number of significant investigations which have resulted in the arrest of racing industry participants for serious integrity breaches ranging from match (race) fixing to serious animal cruelty,

“I wish Tracey all the best as she takes on this new opportunity, and know she will be an asset to Victorian racing integrity as she has been in Queensland for the past 3 years,” Commissioner Barnett said.

The position of QRIC Manager of Integrity Investigations will be advertised in due course.

 

 

ZIELKE PLANNING A RETURN TO TOOWOOMBA FOR FAMILY REASONS

JON ZIELKE – the ‘I’ve Been Everywhere Man’ of racing in Queensland – is moving back to Toowoomba for family reasons.

Zielke has answered an SOS to help his mother who lives on the Darling Downs and has had two strokes and needs a family member close by to care for her.

“I’ve sold my unit on the Gold Coast and bought a five-acre property minutes from the Clifford Park track and will be moving there in late August,” Zielke told LGHR.

“I am scaling back my training operation to about 10 horses and will be looking for stables. Eventually I plan to build stabling on my new property.”

Zielke, who plans to take a team of six north for the Winter Carnivals in Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville, left Toowoomba in February last year to re-establish at the Gold Coast after being caught in the cross-fire of the controversy surrounding the Ben Currie stable.

Four decades of training have taken him from Bowen to Home Hill, Sunshine Coast, Doomben, Toowoomba, Gold Coast and soon back to Toowoomba.

Best known as a trainer of promising youngsters, Zeilke has had a long association with prominent owner and former trainer Evan Hartley who has enjoyed terrific success with his stable.

 

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