Day At The Track

Betting fix alleged

10:23 AM 28 Nov 2017 NZDT
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Nathan Jack, harness racing Amanda Turnbull, Harness Racing Mark Pitt, harness racing Lisa Bartley, harness racing
Nathan Jack
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Amanda Turnbull
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Mark Pitt
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Lisa Bartley
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Four alleged race fixers are pleading not guilty to all charges relating to a harness racing event at Cobram in 2015.

Champion driver Nathan Jack, his partner Amanda Turnbull and Avenel pair Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The four accused have been charged with conduct that corrupts a betting outcome among other offences, after an investigation into the tactics adopted during a race on June 22, 2015 — which Airbournemagic won.

Separate lawyers represented each defendant, as prosecutor Gary Hevey read out a case summary to a packed courtroom.

‘‘This case alleges corruption,’’ he told the court.

‘‘Using corrupt information for betting purposes ... it relates to the stabling, training and racing of a horse known as Airbournemagic and its winning of race four in Cobram.

‘‘In particular, allegations relate to information in possession of defendants ... the likely performance of Airbournemagic and failing to provide that information to Harness Racing Victoria.’’

Mr Hevey briefly outlined details of the charges to Magistrate John Murphy and outlined the role Harness Racing Victoria played in the sport.

Court documents The News obtained told how Airbournemagic was allegedly at the stables of Ms Turnbull, a highly-regarded trainer, and Mr Jack, an experienced driver.

But the details given to Harness Racing Victoria said Airbournemagic was at the stables of another person in Congupna.

Due to the incorrect information allegedly given to Harness Racing Victoria, this increased the odds betting agencies set.

‘‘There are numerous messages which have been seized and downloaded in relation to the case,’’ Mr Hevey told the court.

Prosecution is set to bring forward numerous witnesses from different betting agencies to give evidence, including representatives from Bet365, Ladbrokes and a Victoria Police financial analyst.

The court heard how based on Airbournemagic being stabled at the Congupna address, Bet365 opened the betting ahead of the June 22, 2015 race at $35.

Airbournemagic eventually jumped at just $4.80 with ‘‘thousands and thousands of dollars’’ returned from profits, Mr Hevey will allege.

When Mr Jack took to the track with his horse Tooram Lad, he allegedly allowed Airbournemagic, which was close behind him for much of the race, to win.

During the race, it is alleged Mr Jack was ‘‘overtly and continually looking behind his shoulder’’ at Airbournemagic, which Mr Pitt drove, for much of the race.

Footage is set to be tendered to the court this week, with the trial estimated to run for more than a week.

‘‘The third section of the race was run at 27 seconds — the fastest time recorded in the last 10 years ... Mr Jack ran Tooram Lad ragged so he could not win the race,’’ Mr Hevey told the court.

‘‘When you combine that (footage) with the text messages in relation to betting ahead of the race and on the day and thereafter ... it is inescapable.’’

Ms Turnbull allegedly got a family member to place a bet on the race, which paid off with winnings of $2236.23.

Ms Bartley, who allegedly helped with the training of Airbournemagic along with Mr Jack, also allegedly won $2274.24 on a winning bet on the race.

Lawyers for the accused are set to object to a number of pieces of evidence, including the downloading of phone data seized, certain answers given to racing stewards and subsequent material Victoria Police obtained during a search warrant.

‘‘There is a question of unfairness of the accused,’’ Mr Jack’s defence lawyer Anthony Lewis told the court.

‘‘(We have) similar issues ... challenge the interview with stewards ... use of phone material downloaded and a challenge to the seizing of the mobile phone,’’ Ms Bartley’s defence lawyer Rohan Laurence said.

Many of the charges face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison.

The hearing continues today.

The race in question

By HAYDEN THOMSON

Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

 

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