Monday, August 12, 2013

RV hopes for spring clean-up

Jockeys betting, allegations of race-fixing and trainers outed: Racing Victoria knows it cannot afford another spring carnival like last year if it wants to maintain the confidence of the betting public and protect the iconic status the carnival enjoys on the sporting calendar.

While Victorian Police may have decided not to pursue criminal proceedings over allegations a race at Cranbourne - won by jockey Danny Nikolic on Smoking Aces in 2011 - had been fixed, Racing Victoria confirmed on Monday it had not ruled out taking action.

Dayle Brown, the organisation's head of integrity, said evidence from the Purana Taskforce was still with the Victorian government's Solicitor-General's office.

''The Director of Public Prosecutions decided there was not enough evidence to charge anyone over the various allegations,'' he said on Monday. ''Victoria Police then called a meeting with myself and the integrity board [RV's internal sub-committee on integrity matters] and said they would take all the evidence that they had uncovered to the Victorian [Solicitor-General] and work out what they are allowed to give us to continue our investigations under the rules of racing.

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''We need clear evidence to be able to pursue any case. The expectation is that it will be another month [before any evidence is handed over].

''The Solicitor-General is reviewing the brief to determine what information can be legally shared with Racing Victoria.''

RV chief executive Bernard Saundry and the governing body's chairman, Rob Roulston, acknowledge that they cannot have another public relations disaster like last spring, when revelations by The Age helped shine the spotlight on the murky underbelly of the racing industry.

The organisation has taken a number of integrity initiatives in the nine months since the last carnival ended and is confident that it has now made life much harder for those who cheat or who might be tempted to flout the rules.

Jockeys now have to sign a no-betting declaration as part of their licensing requirements and publicly declare which form analysts they use to help them plan tactics for a race.

There are also new minimum penalties ranging from six-month to five-year disqualifications for jockeys betting on racing, those guilty of other forms of corruption and trainers who illegally administer drugs to their horses.

Brown said the feedback from the industry was that trainers, jockeys and all concerned were getting the message.


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