Race-fixing scandal could be tip of iceberg in corruption investigation
Jockey Danny Nikolic leaves Racing Victoria headquarters. Picture: Darren McNamara.Source: Herald Sun
FOUR top jockeys, other racing identities and professional gamblers are being investigated by police as an organised crime network appears to have far-reaching tentacles in Victorian racing.
Police investigations originally centred on a race won by top jockey Danny Nikolic on Smoking Aces at Cranbourne in April 2011, but authorities now believe the corruption could be widespread and are examining several other races.
The fresh allegations have led authorities to explore one of Australia’s most famous jockeys, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, after thousands of dollars was bet on a rival horse to win a race in which the jockey was riding within the last two years.
And a source from Betfair has revealed to The Age that another investigation is underway into lay betting – when a punter backs a particular horse not to come first.
Another leading jockey is believed to be involved in such betting in more than 24 races.
“We have been aware of it for some time and we have told the authorities (in Victoria),” the Betfair source told The Age. “It is the most serious case we have at the moment.”
It has also been reported that:
– CHIEF Commissioner Ken Lay is having issues banning organised crime figures from tracks because of legal problems.
– POLICE have in their possession information about corrupt activities involving three licensed Victorian bookmakers.
– ANOTHER bookmaker, Charlie Norris, recently resigned after a probe began to delve deeper into his business association with a convicted drug trafficker.
– CHANGES to the law could occur to allow stewards to question non-licensed racing identities suspected of corrupting racing.
On August 6, racing integrity commissioner Sal Perna confirmed he had been aware of the allegations since earlier this year pertaining to the Cranbourne race in 2011.
Perna said his phone hotline, set-up for people to anonymously pass on suspicions regarding races, had not had one incident raised in two years.
Victorian Police assistant commissioner confirmed the investigation.
“There is an investigation into an allegation that a race was fixed in Cranbourne last year, about April … involving a horse of the name Smoking Aces,” assistant commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.
The race-fixing allegation emerged during a homicide investigation into the death of former horse trainer Les Samba, who was shot dead in Melbourne in February last year.
Police confirmed the claim arose from the Samba investigation but would not disclose the details of where or who the allegation had come from.
Nikolic continues to ride and has faced no action from Racing Victoria.