Racing’s rule book is up to the task of dealing with offenders
What a start it has been to thoroughbred racing’s new season. We’re not talking about that horse, Black Caviar, being declared a non-runner this spring, nor Atlantic Jewel, also unbeaten, also sidelined. Not worried about back-to-back premiership winner Chris Waller training four winners on each of two of the first three metropolitan Saturdays.
No, this one is about the race-fixing scandal down in Victoria. The one involving jockeys paying rivals to help out in a race. The one about jockeys backing rival runners in a race. A form student helping out. The one where pro punters are laying certain riders to lose.
Poor old Racing Victoria. The racing regulator where the iconic Melbourne Cup is run is struggling to get any help from the police. It is seeking a better system of co-operation between itself and community law enforcers. The head of the owners’ association down there reckons the phones of jockeys should be tapped.
Wow. While the whiff of scandal, revealed by the ABC’s Four Corners and Fairfax publications develops into a stench, Racing Victoria last week announced its integrity department is going to open an inquiry. Anyone with any information should call in.
But Racing Victoria wants more information from the police. It is not forthcoming. It cries it doesn’t have the power and needs beefed-up legislation. A load of bullocks! Racing has rules. The Australian Rules of Racing.
All powerful statutes that have governed racing well down through the ages. The one that has in place what is called a show cause notice. The one that allows the regulator to ask people to explain why they should be allowed to be a part of racing.
Allowed to set foot on a racecourse. Allowed to be involved in the sport. If they are found to be in breach, bringing the game into disrepute, they are outed.
Suspended, fined, disqualified or even warned off. It is all there in the rules of racing. The old Australian Jockey Club, when it ruled this state, didn’t waste time when the jockey tapes scandal broke. It ordered jockeys to front up.
Within a week of the Herald publishing the jockey tapes yarn, riders Jim Cassidy, Kevin Moses and Gavin Eades were gone. Rubbed out by then chief steward John Schreck and his team. No waiting for police to finish investigations.
So what is stopping Racing Victoria from doing the same? Nothing really. Ask those already named as parties to the latest race fixing to attend an inquiry. Licensed people and the unlicensed. If they don’t turn up then instigate the show cause procedure.
If they still don’t want to answer questions, then warn them off. Blacklist them from the racing game. Any licensed person found to be dealing, consorting, with a warned-off type is put on the banned list. Surely it would amount to bringing the game into disrepute.
As the scandal down south continues, the names and reputations of all in the industry are being sullied. The good, hard-working types, shouldn’t be toiling under such circumstances. Tarred as one. A tiny percentage, minuscule, creating unwanted headlines and smearing the reputations of the vast majority.
And there are rumblings NSW types may well be involved. Racing NSW stewards and those in Victoria are apparently in constant contact. That has got to be a good thing. Should anything emerge it will be interesting to see what action is taken.
Will Racing NSW go to the Australian Racing rule book and follow the laws governing the sport? Use the show cause section and rub those doing the wrong thing out. Maybe, Racing NSW should send the rule book to its counterparts in Victoria.