Day At The Track

Challenge to race meeting bans

07:35 AM 13 Sep 2018 NZST
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High profile harness horsepeople banned from going to the races look set to challenge that today.

All of the industry participants charged under Operation Inca last week, which saw several horsepeople arrested in Canterbury, were issued with race meeting bans.

Although their notice of exclusion from race meetings is overseen by the Racing Integrity Unit, that role was actually secondary because most were banned from attending racing meetings under their bail conditions.

But those conditions were lifted by the courts when many of those charged had their first hearings on Tuesday, meaning they are free to apply to the Racing Integrity Unit to have their exclusion notices withdrawn and be able to attend the feature Addington meeting tomorrow night.

Herald sources suggest at least some of the lawyers acting on their behalf may seek for the RIU to allow them to work at race meetings until their cases are heard.

New Zealand racing has little precedent for these cases.

With most of those charged denying the allegations in court and the consensus being at least some are going to defend them, the cases are certain to drag into next year and potentially much longer.

Some could be asking if it is fair the horsepeople involved can have a major source of income taken away while still presumed innocent but there will also be those suggesting they must stay banned for the good of the industry.

That decision appears to lie with the RIU and they would not comment yesterday on the exact process to have the exclusions lifted.

Often serious RIU matters go before a Judicial Control Authority panel but that looks unlikely here.

The ban doesn't just apply to race meetings but to trials and workouts.

While harness racing is still spinning from the cases, the racing itself raises a notch or two tomorrow night with some of the better horses in the country returning at Addington and Alexandra Park.

Star Galleria and Speeding Spur headline the Alexandra Park meeting while Addington hosts the first serious open class trot of the season, the Ordeal Cup while Thefixer comes up against several fellow New Zealand Cup contenders in the main pace.

Meanwhile, Lazarus is a surprise entry at Woodbine in Canada.

The Kiwi champ, how trained in New Jersey, was a brave second last start on the same track and drops way back in class on Sunday afternoon (NZ time).

Lazarus was found to be suffering from a virus after his last-start defeat and looks to be using this week's race as a chance to get some North American-style mile racing under his belt before the major challenges of next month, an open pace at the Red Mile and the Breeders Crown.


Michael Guerin

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