PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING IN RACING & THE LATEST STATS ARE ESPECIALLY DAMNING FOR THE BEN CURRIE STABLE

PERCEPTION is everything in racing and statistics for the under siege Ben Currie stable are especially damning since the young trainer’s dad, Mark, was suspended by the Queensland Racing Industry Commission.

Since Currie snr was charged last Friday with 12 counts of race day treatment and four of improper practice the stable has had 24 starters for only two winners.

Coincidence or not – where they normally dominate on their home track of Toowoomba – the stable did not strike a blow with six starters at Saturday’s twilight meeting which is almost unheard of in recent times.

Critics have highlighted the fact that only one of the six was placed and that was Apolloboom (which ran third after being scratched from a tougher assignment that afternoon at Doomben).

Some of the stable runners were beaten out of sight with Bidaflare (12 lengths last), Devilliers (over 9 lengths last), Rok’n’undathestarts (7 lengths last) and Mr Markou (4th of 6, beaten over 12 lengths).

At the Sunshine Coast on Sunday the well fancied last start winner Hot Talk ran 7th of 8 (beaten 8-1/2 lengths) while the only other runner on the day Saipan ran 3rd of 5.

This prompted the social media snipers to have a field day: ‘Poor little Benny can’t fire a shot since daddy was told to the leave the building,’ one wrote.

Controversy again rode shotgun with the Currie stable at Doomben on Saturday with heavily backed favorite and track record breaking Weetwood winner Amanaat badly injured when he reared in the barriers and was subsequently (surprisingly to some) declared a non-runner by stewards after jockey Bobby Elissa throw a hissy fit at an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the start. Stablemate Ruettiger went like a hobbled duck in the same race finishing 10th of 11 (beaten almost 10 lengths).

Stablemate With a Promise came out a race later and landed a long priced plunge with a boilover win in the Listed Tails Stakes and is now the subject of a stewards’ inquiry. Stewards, rightly so, want to know what contributed to the massive improvement from a horse that had beaten just one home at his two previous runs since a spell. Currie has told The Courier-Mail it was due to a step up in distance.

The stable took five horses to Kilcoy on Saturday but was successful with only one – Mustarrid – a well backed favorite which led and fell in prompting another comment on social media: ‘How the mighty fall – from 11 starters at second string meetings like Toowoomba and Kilcoy where one would expect them to dominate they could only win one race. I guess you can’t help bad luck or have the wheels fallen off for Ben and Boof’.

This season Currie has had 119 winners and in the last 12 months an amazing 159. His win strike rate is close to 25 per cent (one in four starters have been winning) and his place strike rate close to 50 per cent (one in two run a place).

Yet since the stable was raided by QRIC on Weetwood Day which subsequently saw the standing down of two stablehands, the suspension of Currie snr and Ben under the continuing microscope of a serious inquiry, the winners and placings have dried up.

From their last 24 starters the stable has managed just two winners – they went missing in action at their home track where they normally dominate.

QRIC came under fire for allowing Currie to start his team on Weetwood Day in the wake of the stable raid. He went on to win the Weetwood with Amanaat, the Guineas with Hang and just missed in the other feature the Toowoomba Cup in a deceptive finish with Honey Toast.

As we said at the start – perception is everything in racing and the latest stats aren’t a good luck for the stable in view of what is happening off the track behind closed doors.

There are those who say Currie snr will be allowed take the ‘hit’ for his son but how can he? The buck stops with the trainer regardless of where horses are stabled or in whose care they were on race day. And the question still remains how Currie snr was allowed to be so involved when he has a trainer’s license of his own?

The harshest of critics still insist that Currie jnr has enough ‘start in the right places’ to do a Houdini. He is entitled to the presumption of innocence but there are many who say the fate of the integrity system in racing in Queensland lies squarely at the feet of the final outcome of this inquiry.

Time will tell!

 

MARK CURRIE SUSPENDED ON 12 CHARGES OF RACE DAY TREATMENT & FOUR OF IMPROPER PRACTICE - OTHERS STILL BEING INVESTIGATED

QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards have (on Friday) suspended Toowoomba trainer Mark Currie.

The resumed inquiry into breaches of the Rules of Racing concerning race day treatment of race horses at trainer Ben Currie’s Hursley Road, Toowoomba stables, took further evidence from his father Mark Currie.

Mark Currie has now been charged with 12 counts of Race Day Treatment under Australian Rule of Racing 178 (E) and four counts of Improper Practice under Rule 175 (a).

Mr Currie has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges and the matters have been adjourned for hearing to a date to be fixed.

Mr Currie has had his license suspended until the matters are determined under AR8 (Z).


QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett said the QRIC will allege that race day treatment of race horses occurred at the property on two separate occasions on the morning of Saturday 7 April 2018.

“The first treatment allegedly occurred pre-dawn that morning and the second was the suspicious activity the QRIC Integrity Investigations Team (IIT) members witnessed while monitoring the premises.

“It was also alleged that race day treatment occurred at the same stables before Ben Currie trained horses were transported to race at Doomben and Gatton on Saturday 24 March 2018.

Commissioner Barnett said two ‘Currie Racing’ stablehands have been suspended as a result of this investigation and the QRIC has now identified some of the individuals involved in the alleged race day treatments but inquiries into the possible involvement of other people was continuing.

“Today’s outcome is not the end of the investigation, the focus of these continuing and protracted inquiries is the involvement of other racing industry participants and the outcome may not be known for several weeks,” he said.

“I expect further disciplinary action may be taken as QRIC continues to analyze items seized from the stables including CCTV, saliva, urine and blood samples and phone records.

“The Rules of Racing stipulate that any race day treatment of a racing animal, including administering legal substances without the permission of the stewards is prohibited.”

The Commission will continue to keep the Queensland racing industry informed.

 

BRENDAN PARNELL APPOINTED NEW CEO OF RACING QUEENSLAND

THE Chair of Racing Queensland, Steve Wilson AM has announced the appointment of experienced media, wagering and sports executive Brendan Parnell to the position of Chief Executive Officer.

Mr Wilson said Mr Parnell is well qualified to lead Racing Queensland into a new era of prosperity and growth. “We engaged the best executive recruitment specialists to find candidates for this important role and Brendan Parnell stood out as offering a diverse set of skills and capabilities that we feel will benefit racing across all three codes. We welcome him to the role.”

“Officially the new CEO will start on May 14 and we will be liaising with him between now and his official start date.”

Mr Parnell has substantial experience in racing and wagering and was most recently the Chief Operating Officer, Wagering, of Tatts Group, which operated UBET prior to Tatts Group’s merger with Tabcorp in December 2017. He also held senior roles at Tabcorp and Sky Channel and has undertaken a Senior Executive Program at Stanford University. 

Mr Parnell said he was honoured to be selected to head-up racing in Queensland. “Racing in Queensland is a massive sport and business which impacts almost every town and community across the sunshine state.

“How we connect and enhance racing is critical for its more than 41,000 participants. I'm excited by that challenge and the many opportunities in coming years."

Mr Wilson said the new CEO will have a number of focus-points for his first three months in the role including the Queensland Winter and Summer Racing Carnivals, growing revenue and increasing returns to participants after the previously announced $15 million annual boost to prize money.

“The incoming CEO will also be acutely aware of the importance of Racing Queensland’s delivery of our infrastructure projects across the state including the return to racing of our premier thoroughbred venue Eagle Farm.

“I am pleased that the grow-in is showing some positive signs after the final sections of the track were completed last week. I look forward to progress reports as we count-down to its return to our racing schedule.”

Mr Wilson also nominated infrastructure projects in country and regional areas, the Ipswich Turf Club and the Gold Coast Turf Club as being key priorities. The search is also continuing for land for possible new or replacement sites for greyhound and harness racing to the south and west of Brisbane.

Mr Parnell will relocate from Sydney to Brisbane for the new role. Mr Wilson thanked Racing Queensland’s GM of Racing Simon Stout for acting in the CEO role until Mr Parnell arrives.

 

 

WEDNESDAY WHINGE but HAVE YOUR SAY any DAY of the WEEK.

There will be no WHINGE next week when LGHR takes a week’s break.

 

‘IS IT A BIRD – IS IT A PLANE? NO IT’S SUPERBEN’  - JUST ASK HIM!  

DON GALLAGHER of BRISBANE weighs into the debate on the CURRIE STABLE:

‘MY mates and I were amused by the ‘back hander’ that Archie Butterfly delivered to under siege training young gun Ben Currie on his new website jeebung.com, which he launched after ‘faceless enemies’ within the world of racing, harness racing and paedophilia forced him to close the controversial itsnotnomalisit.com.

This was a ‘must read’ commentary on the success that the Currie stable has enjoyed with rejects from some of the best stables in the country including Team Hayes, Gai Waterhouse, Mick Price, Robert Smerdon, Robert Hickmott, Robbie Lang, Gary Clarke, Henry Dwyer, Alan Denham, Jerome Hunter, Robbie Heathcote, Les Ross and Paul Jones.

Some of these steeds were going like dromedaries before they came into the care of Currie, who one could argue has far less experience than any of the abovementioned trainers. Yet he has converted some of them into potential Carnival stars, the main one being Amanaat which Hayes struggled to win a Maiden with and sold cheaply before it went on to sit three wide and run a track record winning the recent Toowoomba Weetwood for Currie.

As Archie wrote: ‘Is It a Bird, Is It a Plane? No, It’s SuperBen.’

Ask Currie the reason for his amazing success in such a short time and he will credit it to his controversial training methods. Talk to the majority of his colleagues and they will suggest something else that the whole industry is talking about since yet another raid on the Currie stables on Weetwood morning yielded what some are saying is ‘pay dirt’ despite no charges being laid against Ben or his father, Mark, at this stage. The only victims being two lowly stablehands who have been stood down by the Queensland Racing Integrity Unit for their part in alleged ‘suspicious activities’ which begs the question: Under whose direction and where does the buck stop with the block or the butcher?

The irony of the situation is that despite the dark clouds hanging over the Currie stable, the winners continue to flow – one at the main meeting at the Sunshine Coast last Saturday and a treble at Toowoomba on Sunday including an impressive win by a French import making its debut for the stable.

And despite the controversy surrounding Currie the broadcast media, especially SKY Channel are all but ignoring the problems confronting him continuing to pump up his tyres and move forward as though nothing has ever happened.’

 

‘SHOULD CURRIE CONTINUE TO BE PROPELLED AS FACE OF RACING’?

ANDY JAMES of GOLD COAST poses the above question:

‘THE Ben Currie stable is the subject of one of the most serious inquiries in Queensland racing of the recent era yet Racing Queensland, some of the major clubs and sections of the mainstream racing media continue to treat him like a training superstar.

Many of his colleagues continue to allege that it is not a level playing field competing against Currie and his somewhat unconventional training methods. Recent reports suggest his stable has been under surveillance for some months.

This led to the situation where two of his stable staff was stood down by the racing police after being observed allegedly administering race day treatments to stable runners on Weetwood Day. Unconfirmed reports suggest that one was crash tackled with a syringe in his hand and another caught with a towel wiping paste off the mouth of a horse that was running that afternoon. I repeat unconfirmed.   

Prize money won by the stable on Weetwood and Cup day has been withheld pending confirmation of what is widely rumored to have been positive test results from the A samples of race day swabs. The question of course on the lips of many is whether these secondary swabs are being sent to overseas laboratories for testing for drugs that seem to be undetectable in Australia.

Ben Currie and his father Mark (who has a history of positive swabs and enjoyed only mediocre success before his son took over training his team when he was disqualified some years back) were grilled for hours by Queensland Racing Integrity Commission investigators. Commissioner Ross Barnett said no charges had been laid against either ‘at this stage’ as inquiries continued.

Phones and bank records of the Currie’s have reportedly been seized. There are rumors of a major Federal Police investigation into a gambling syndicate operating out of Victoria and involving stables in four states with specific focus on the extraordinary success of two in particular in South Australia and Queensland.

What amazes many in the industry is how sections of the media and Racing Queensland appear to be promoting Ben Currie as the ‘Face of Racing’ as the Winter Carnival hots up despite the cloud over his stable and the fact that the Brisbane Racing Club continue to refuse to lease him stables without revealing any reason for this.

In the meantime Currie has apparently circularized his legion of owners maintaining his innocence and insisting the current investigation is part of an on-going witch-hunt. Behind the scenes he is allegedly telling those in the inner sanctum of his stable that he will simply continue to train until officialdom tells him he can't.’

 

‘PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE WARNING’ TO CURRIE STABLE CRITICS

LGHR received dozens of emails concerning the CURRIE STABLE INQUIRY many of which we could not run for legal reasons. We need contributors to understand that no charges have been laid against Ben of Mark Currie and that until the QRIC investigation is completed they are entitled to the presumption of innocence. We understand the degree of industry frustration on this issue but legally will not use ‘Whinges’ which are borderline defamatory in the eyes of our lawyers. If you want to get those messages across then send them to racing ‘blogs’ who have no respect for the laws of libel.

Here are those we were prepared to publish with the postscript that they do not necessarily represent the views of LGHR despite our strong belief that there was an overdue need to address the growing concerns being expressed about activities involving the Currie stable:

JC: ‘I am a vet who knows a fair bit about tubing, treatment of horses, milkshakes, ‘green dreams and the application of methamphetamine to tongue ties (the latest in a long line of ‘hits’ to avoid detection). What I would like to know is why horses are not being impounded by stewards for some hours after normal swabbing. Some of these drugs take time to metabolize in the system and that is the only way they are going to detect it. So there’s a tip for Commissioner Barnett and his racing coppers from the ‘horse’s mouth’. Let’s see if they follow up on it.’

KD: ‘I have been training for years and enjoyed my share of success in Queensland and I can tell you that what is being used by some stables here is the same as that of a trainer facing serious charges interstate: 1ml of ‘green dream’ and 5mls of synthetic bicarb administered just before the race.’

LQ: ‘QRIC need to know that what is being used by some trainers in Queensland is not ‘Frog Juice’. It is methamphetamine (Ice) which is being applied to the tongue ties. It doesn’t show in blood for two hours after administration’.

DL: ‘BEN Currie would be rated a far greater success story if he hadn’t faced swabbing issues in the past. Because of his history when a horse improves so dramatically coming into his care from a leading stable the alarm bells start ringing. It’s sad but true.’

TZ: ‘SOME punters are dragging Will Clarken in Adelaide through the same mud as Ben Currie. Have they stopped to think that these two young blokes might be outstanding trainers?’

AW: ‘THERE are so many allegations floating around that QRIC needs to investigate the lot. Was a stable getting tipped off about raids? Does a former policeman own horses in a stable and if so does he have links to former colleagues at QRIC? Were there texts discovered between a steward and the stable despite denials in the past? Does a stable have owners linked to the ‘underbelly’ of crime in Victoria? Is the training regime at the Currie stable being assisted by a topline trainer of the past in this country?’

ANON: ‘I am a trainer who was at the SUNSHINE COAST races on Saturday where the Currie stable had three runners. Can someone explain why these runners turned up separately – in two big horse trucks and a horse float? Why would you not bring all three in the one transport especially considering the cost of transporting them from Toowoomba?’

GS: ‘ARE stable followers, intent on protecting their man Ben, now blaming Rob Heathcote and not John Zielke for some of the problems the stable is confronted with? How did they know within hours that Heathcote allegedly went to stewards and complained about something he saw involving Ben Currie at a recent midweek meeting at Doomben? Story goes Heathcote is snubbing his nose at them and saying ‘they don’t intimidate me!’

BB: ‘WHY were many in the racing industry concerned when Toowoomba’s Chief Steward Rion Hitchener was originally in charge of the Currie inquiry on Weetwood Day and even more disillusioned when his boss Allan Reardon took over days later? And why are these same people now asking when Reardon is due to retire and hoping it will be before the Currie inquiry is concluded? Most are saying they want John Hackett another veteran steward who has made a mission of investigating activities of the Currie stable to run the inquiry.’

RM: ‘Wow, I have just read the one sided and biased weekly publication that you put out and have to ask the following. Why such a one sided version of events? Why not focus on some other top trainers.’

BF: ‘IS it true that a steward sent to visit Currie some time back drove up and down outside the stable so many times that when he pulled his car to the curbside a neighboring trainer came out and said to him: ‘Why didn’t you call first and ask them to brew a cup of coffee’?’

MS: ‘DID a high profile QRIC copper, speaking confidentially with a small but concerned group on Weetwood day, tell them: ‘This is just the tip of the iceberg – there are bigger fish to fry.’

JH: ‘WHY are so many in the industry intent that the current inquiry will be a ‘white wash’ especially when they believe the horses should have been stood down from the Weetwood day meeting.’                    

IJ: ‘THE Currie stable had a stack of runners at Sunday’s race meeting in Toowoomba yet there are reports that only two (De Villiers and Kay Kay Boy) were pre-race swabbed. Ten others from various stables were however. One would have thought that in the current climate all of them would have been.’

            

RESIDENTS LONG-SUFFERING VICTIMS OF FARM REDEVELOPMENT 

IT seems that the industry stakeholders are not the only long-suffering victims of the controversial Eagle Farm track redevelopment.

Racing Queensland has reacted to complaints from residents about the damage that dust and vermon from the site has had on nearby homes and pools.

But one well-known racing lady has inherited a problem that the Brisbane Racing Club is saying it can do nothing about which arguably is quite insulting.

Here is a letter of complaint penned by Cecilia Mannion to politicians and racing officials concerning the plight she now faces through the actions of the BRC which threatens to substantially reduce the value of her $1 million property adjoining the Eagle Farm track.   

It reads:

I own a property at 48 Mein Street, Hendra, backing onto Eagle Farm Racetrack.

The house is tenanted and until (recently) I had not seen the property for approximately 18 months.

I purchased the land in 2006 because of position and the wonderful view of the racetrack, the hills of Ascot and Mt Gravatt lookout.  

I come from a horse racing family and it was always my dream to live in Mein Street and watch the horses each morning at track work and on race-days.  

I engaged an architect and designed and built a home around the view.

I inspected the house (recently) and was shocked and disgusted to see an enormous, ugly shed had been built at the rear of my property by the BRC. The shed is used to store the barriers. Eagle Farm did not consult me at any stage regarding the construction of this shed and evidently gave no consideration to their long suffering neighbors.  

I spoke to the BRC (recently) and they tried to tell me the shed had been there forever. I assured them this was not correct and aerial footage confirms this. The shed was constructed sometime in late 2016.  

The BRC sold land for development and profit and believe it is acceptable to devalue my asset in the process.  The Facilities Manager at the BRC told me (recently) they cannot be moved because “we have no real estate”.

After I purchased the property the BRC planted several fig trees to the rear of my property. These trees are now overgrown and house vermin. I know this because I have spent several hundred dollars on vermin control.

I have had to pay additional cleaning costs for the house and pool, costs for vermin control, replacement of pool filters and chlorinators and many complaints from the tenants.

This cannot be acceptable and I am asking for your help in rectifying the matter.

The amazing views I had when I purchased the property in 2006 have been replaced with a view of an ugly shed and overgrown and unkempt trees and grass.  Ray White New Farm advised me this has had a substantial detrimental effect on the value of my property.

RACING Queensland have taken the matter up on behalf of Ms Manion with the BRC and have also supplied her with a copy of a circular sent to residents who have complained about the Eagle Farm fallout. It reads:

Dear Residents

Re: Eagle Farm Cleaning Support Application

RACING Queensland has responded to concerns raised by residents living on properties adjoining the Eagle Farm racetrack about the impact of dust on their properties arising from the track remediation project, which is nearing completion.

Residents can now apply for support for the external cleaning of their properties including, as necessary, gutters, eaves, soffits, walls, patio, ceilings, balustrading, rinsing of deck flooring and an external window wash.

Racing Queensland will also consider requests for assistance from residents with swimming pools where it can be demonstrated that pools and/or pool equipment were directly impacted by dust (or other material) emanating from the current Eagle Farm Track remediation project.

Racing Queensland acknowledges that the impact of the dust varies from resident to resident therefore applications for cleaning support other than that outlined above, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Residents can make their requests for cleaning support using the online application form on the Racing Queensland website:http://www.racingqueensland.com.au/Corporate/Infrastructure/Eagle-Farm-residents-form. However, we recognize that some people may not have computer access therefore a printed form has been included with this letter. The return address is:

Racing Queensland 

Infrastructure

P.O. Box 63, Sandgate QLD 4017 

Racing Queensland will review all applications giving due regard to the circumstances outlined by each resident and will contact all applicants individually to discuss their applications and to arrange for access to provide the cleaning support outlined above, if applicable.

Racing Queensland has agreed to receive applications for cleaning support on behalf of the Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) where it is demonstrated that dust associated with BRC’s on-site developments may have had an impact on residents. Brisbane Racing Club has committed to responding to those applicants directly.

It is anticipated that the Eagle Farm track remediation project will be completed in April (pending weather conditions) followed by a maintenance program to support growth of the new track surface.

Applications for cleaning support will be accepted until the end of April. It is anticipated that all agreed cleaning support will be delivered in the weeks following the track completion after a period of liaison with residents and cleaners and depending on the demand and ease of access to impacted properties.

Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club look forward to joining with residents in celebrating the return to racing of this wonderful and iconic Queensland racing track when Eagle Farm is once again ready to take its place among Australia’s best racing venues.

Paul McDonnell

General Manager Infrastructure

Racing Queensland

LGHR will continue to monitor this and believes that, legally or otherwise, no director of the BRC would accept a similar situation with a property of their own where an ugly monstrosity was constructed that blocked their view or decreased the value of their residence. And what about ‘Tim the Toolman’ Nicholls – the Member for this Electorate – is he sitting on his fat behind doing nothing or straddling the fence as usual?  

 

‘IT’S OK TO HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD BUT NOT A TIPPING SERVICE’?

BRIAN TAYLOR of BRISBANE sent this email:

‘IT would be interesting to know the input of Queensland at the National Chairmen of Stewards’ conference relating to ‘conflicts of interest’ and ‘integrity risks’ involving licensed jockey agents.

This follows the discovery that some jockey managers – specifically in Melbourne – have established paid tipping services.

The likely by-product of the concerns expressed by our racing law enforcers will see Racing Australia formulate a Rule making it an offense for a jockey’s agent to either back or tip a horse that their client is riding.

This is especially hypocritical if it involves support from Queensland stewards where at least one jockey manager has a criminal record. There were days when the control body police checked applicants before licenses were granted.

We also have a situation in Victoria where some of the major tipsters have far more serious conflicts of interest than the jockey agents.

One is a consultant to several trainers and major owners (does he always tip their horses and if he wasn’t allowed to tip horses in which he has a conflict of interest he would be required to stand aside from selecting in most races on the card)?

Then there was the situation where the industry-owned racing.com employed Brent Zerafa in Victoria after he was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to racing after tipping a stablemate but reportedly backing the winner after receiving a private text message pointing him in the right direction. He was sacked by SKY but is now thrown up by racing.com as a top tipster on race nights and as a guest tipster on the Get On program. How much confidence do the punters have in him?

If they start implementing rules these need to provide a level playing field for all concerned. If you have a close look some of the former jockeys who operated tipping services are now working for those parasite corporate bookmakers.’  

 

‘BIG PUNTER UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH CROWN PROSECUTOR’

THIS racing story got a nice run in the FAIRFAX MEDIA so we thought it was worth reproducing even if NEWS LIMITED doesn’t seem to have shown the same interest in it:     

KATE McCLYMONT reported in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

RACEGOERS at Warwick Farm were astonished when Alma’s Fury, usually a complete flop when it came to racing on a wet track, scored an upset win in the rain in February 2013.

But the shock win proved to be a bonanza for one punter, Edward Ridgway from Sydney’s Northbridge, who won $56,000 after an outlay of $1600 on Alma’s Fury.

That bet, along with 77 others, is now the subject of criminal proceedings as it is alleged big-time punter Steve Fletcher was behind the bets.

Stephen Charles Fletcher, 47, from Darlinghurst, has been charged with 78 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

Mr Fletcher and another major punter, Darren Azzopardi, stand accused of using the identities of a string of police officers to hide their gambling activities with a number of betting agencies, including bet365 and Sportingbet.

Each charge attracts a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

Mr Fletcher shot to fame in 2006 when he and his then betting partner, brothel owner Eddie Hayson, won millions of dollars when they successfully wagered on the Newcastle Knights losing to the Warriors. Mr Hayson, who owned horses with ex-rugby league star Andrew Johns and his brother Matthew, denied receiving inside information that the Knights' star player Andrew Johns would not be playing due to injury.

The betting charges against Mr Fletcher date from September 2012 through to March 2013. At the time Mr Fletcher was banned from gambling with most betting agencies. He is accused of using the identities of other people to disguise his betting.

Court documents tendered in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court reveal that Mr Fletcher was betting not only on provincial and city races across Australia but also in Hong Kong and Singapore.

On December 2, 2012, using Mr Ridgway's account, a $300 bet on Dream Builder in race 9 in Hong Kong, turned into a win of $17,700.

In a three-week period from late February 2013, allegedly using the identities of others, Mr Fletcher enjoyed 28 successful wagers ranging from greyhounds in Mandurah, Western Australia, to harness racing in Penrith, to horse racing in Hong Kong.

On September 29, 2012, allegedly using the Sportingbet account of then Senior Constable Jason Immens, who was with the Tactical Operations Unit, Mr Fletcher bet a whopping $38,777 on the hot favourite More Joyous, which was racing at Rosehill. The John Singleton-owned mare’s Group 1 win returned $1,551.08.

The following week, again using Mr Immens’s account, Mr Fletcher bet $20,578 on the favourite Travinator at Perth’s Belmont Park. The win returned $4,115.60, court documents show.

On Saturday, October 13, 2012, Mr Immens’s account showed a $2000 bet on Sea Marvista in Doomben, Brisbane, and winning $16,800. Later that same day the police officer’s Sportingbet account showed a successful $27,294 wager in race 4 at Belmont Park returning $8,188.20.

Two former police officers are also facing criminal charges. It is understood that Senior Constable Marc Smith and Senior Constable Tony "Supe" Williams introduced a string of their police officer mates to Mr Fletcher and to Mr Azzopardi.

Mr Williams, at the time a homicide detective, was introduced to Mr Fletcher by Mr Fletcher’s close personal friend, Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, SC. Because of Ms Cunneen's relationship with Mr Fletcher, the decision about whether to criminally charge Mr Fletcher had to be removed from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, where Ms Cunneen works, and sent instead to the Crown Solicitor's office.

It is understood that it was Ms Cunneen’s son Steven Wyllie, who worked for Mr Fletcher, who introduced Mr Ridgway, his school friend from Riverview, to his boss. Neither Mr Immens, Mr Ridgway, whose account was allegedly used by Mr Fletcher to mask his betting activities, nor Mr Wyllie is accused of any wrongdoing.

The matter will return to court on June 7.

**************


 

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