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One of Queensland's most successful harness racing drivers Shane Graham has won a two-year battle to clear his name over race fixing allegations. Graham was charged with two counts of match fixing by Queensland Racing Integrity in December of 2017, relating to a race at Albion Park on July 28, 2017. Lawyers for Graham, 38, were advised this week that all match fixing charges against their client had been dropped. Graham was driving his father's horse "Dapper" in the race in question, but it was alleged he'd phoned his friend, and the owner of a rival horse by the name of "January", advising the friend that Dapper would win. Graham drove Dapper to victory over January, who was trained by Graham's long-term partner at the time and driven by an employee of the stable. A jury was discharged in September last year after being unable to reach a verdict on the charges. A District Court judge dismissed the charges against Graham in February and a crown review has now resulted in the charges against Graham being withdrawn. Graham has spent his life in the sport. Prior to the charges, he was consistently in the Sunshine State's top three drivers, having driven over 100 winners in the previous 16 years, with a career best of 250. In October 2017 he represented Australia in Canada, and he was a regular representative for Queensland in Australian State challenges. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Four harness racing participants have been stood down as a precautionary measure due to potential exposure to Coronavirus. Harness Racing NSW on Tuesday declared that a participant was found to have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. READ: Harness racing cancelled in NSW The flow-on effect from that has directly affected participants north of the border, who are now awaiting test results now. "The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has this afternoon stood down four Harness racing participants as a precautionary measure pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic," the QRIC statement read. "QRIC Stewards became aware today, that a New South Wales harness driver who had driven at Penrith on Thursday night and Bathurst on Friday night had been in contact with a person who is currently awaiting test results for the Covid-19 virus. "The New South Wales driver has been staying with a Queensland harness driver and subsequently has been in close contact with three Queensland participants. "Acting Commissioner Mark Ainsworth said the New South Wales Harness driver has gone into immediate self -isolation, and the other three men are also considering self-isolating. "None of the men are currently exhibiting any symptoms and Queensland Health has been providing advice to me since I became aware of the situation. "QRIC Harness Stewards have taken the appropriate precautionary measures to protect participants and the Industry." Reprinted with permission of

Race-fixing cases against harness racing participants Dayl March and Leonard Cain were dismissed in Brisbane Magistrates’ Court this week, leaving the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and the Racing Crime Squad red-faced. Both decisions cited a lack of evidence as the reason for the dismissals. The cases of March and Cain were the first match-fixing charges to be contested in court relating to QRIC’s harness racing investigations, which were conducted by the Racing Crime Squad. Last October, Barton Cockburn pleaded guilty to three charges of match fixing, pertaining to races in November 2016 and was fined $5000. Soon after, Michael Grant also pleaded guilty to different charges relating to the same inquiry. At the time, Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said Cockburn’s conviction “should put an end to industry speculation about whether the Commission would be able to gather sufficient evidence to obtain convictions”. “I hope the fact that two of the three people we’ve charged so far have now pleaded guilty will be a reflection of the evidence that was gathered in these matters,” Barnett said at the time. However, Cain and March chose to defend the charges and their cases were thrown out of court on Wednesday and Thursday. It is understood in the case of trainer-driver March, the Magistrate indicated there was insufficient evidence to proceed and the charges were subsequently withdrawn. Harness driver Leonard Cain had his race-fixing case dismissed in the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court.  In the case of Cain, a harness driver, it is understood the prosecution asked for more time to produce witnesses, but the submission was rejected and the case dismissed. Both QRIC and the Queensland Police Service declined to comment on the March and Cain dismissals on Friday. March has been sidelined and unable to compete since having his license suspended in April last year. Initially he did not seek a stay of proceedings because he had hoped the matter would be resolved quickly. Later, when it became apparent the case would drag on, he was denied the stay. Originally published as Race-fixing cases thrown out of court   By Nathan Exelby   Reprinted with permission of    

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission will not appeal a decision to have sacked harness racing chief steward David Farquharson reinstated. It has opened the door for Farquharson to return to work this week. The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission's deputy president Adrian Bloomfield last week ordered Farquharson be reinstated as of his sacking date of February 24, 2017. It was further ordered Farquharson be paid any money lost through the sacking and that his contract of employment be deemed to be continuous. Farquharson was sacked by the QRIC commissioner Ross Barnett after originally being stood down from his post in December 2016. The QIRC hearing was told the dismissal followed allegations made about Farquharson's behaviour in the third day of stewards' inquiry in July 2016. Those allegations were the basis of a Crime and Corruption Commission hearing which referred the matter back to Barnett. After two show cause notices were issued to Farquharson by Barnett he was dismissed. Farquharson denied any dishonesty and wrong doing and took his case to the QIRC which ruled in his favour. QRIC has four weeks from the date the decision was handed down to appeal. But a spokesman for QRIC has confirmed it will appeal and that Barnett would be making no public statement at this time. By AAP

Racing Queensland has noted the decision by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) to suspend the licenses of a harness racing participant. The participant was suspended after leaving a QRIC inquiry into his driving tactics during a race at Redcliffe in December. QRIC has informed Racing Queensland that the participant’s licenses will remain suspended until he attends a reconvened inquiry. General Manager of Racing, Simon Stout, reaffirmed Racing Queensland’s support of QRIC’s efforts to protect the integrity of all codes of racing. “The integrity of racing is paramount to its success for both participants and customers and to maintain public confidence in the sport.” There are close to 3100 people directly involved in harness racing in Queensland generating $141.8 million for the Queensland economy. More than 800 owners and 275 trainers support the 2200 harness races each year across the state. Racing Queensland is committed to working with participants to ensure the long-term future of harness racing in Queensland. Racing Queensland

It would not be Christmas without a message. As we come to the end of the calendar year, most harness racing participants would be considering the effect that the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has had on harness in recent months. With a number of leading lights arrested for "race fixing” and allied activities in recent months, there is division in the ranks. Not all are grateful for a process which is aimed at cleaning up a sport. The "nay sayers” called for more prizemoney and complained bitterly at the cost of QRIC, claiming that the funds involved would be better spent being funnelled into the pockets of the handful of trainers who had been getting the lions share for the past two decades. The recent election delivered the opposition promise to emasculate QRIC should they be returned to power. Enough said. Anyone with recollections of night trotting years ago will agree as to the superiority of the spectacle. If QRIC can provide us with a squeaky clean product, and our administrators with a punter friendly racing format, then we will have the Christmas present of our dreams. Harness participants will have the opportunity to rebuild harness to a stage where punters will happily bet on it, come to watch it in the flesh and a reasonable number will develop an interest in owning, training and driving. There is the message. Narissa's reward GLAMORGANVALE based trainer/driver Narissa McMullen has added another trophy to the cabinet, taking out the Australian Young Driver's Championship conducted at Recliffe and Albion Park last week. McMullen finished the series on 96 points, seven clear of Dylan Ferguson (New Zealand) on 89. Chris Geary (NSW) finished with 75 in third, while Jason Lee (Victoria) ended on 72 points. McMullen's series got off to a flier on the opening night when she won the opening two heats at Redcliffe to take the early series lead. Ferguson and Sheree Tomlinson claimed the next two heats for the Kiwis, before Lee and Geary took maximum points on the second night. McMullen made it another double on the final night, leading all the way on Parisian Rockstar at Albion on Saturday, with Lee and Jayden Brewin (South Australia) collecting wins ahead of the final. The win meant McMullen had followed the footsteps of her renowned father John McMullen, who won the 1986 Inter Dominion Young Drivers Series. He beat a star-studded field which featured the likes of Mark Purdon and Anthony Butt, whose daughter Kimberly Butt represented New Zealand in the 2017 event. "(Dad) always talks about it,” McMullen laughed. "It was good to be able to say 'now I've got a win too'. The family was really excited.” Vital new role THE Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner has announced the appointment of a new Director of Licensing and Stewarding - Ali Wade. "Ms Wade has acted in the role in a relieving capacity for much of the past year after transitioning to the Commission as Manager of Licensing and Registration,'' Commissioner Ross Barnett said. "Prior to that, she worked at Racing Queensland in several senior management roles including Senior Manager of Stewarding and Integrity Operations after joining that organisation in 2006.'' The Director of Licensing and Stewarding is tasked with overseeing the work of 35 stewards across Queensland and the licensing and registration teams. "Ms Wade comes to the role at a time of significant change in the racing industry, including greater community expectations for the welfare of animals and the integrity of the three codes of thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing,” Barnett said. Wade said she was looking forward to ensuring Queensland's racing industry maintained the highest standards for integrity and animal welfare. "This is a great honour and I'd like to give special mention to the support I have received from the chief stipendiary steward for thoroughbreds Mr Allan Reardon,” Wade said. Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Quinella 1-3: Chapter One (T Dixon). and Polished Rocks). R2: Box trifecta 1-2-8: Nui Toc Tien (C. Petroff)-Rate Highly (N McMullen)-Mojo Major (G Dixon). R3: Quinella 3-4: Young American and Long Road To Fame (A Sanderson). R4: Quinella 1-5: Franco Revel (C Hart) and Chal Fire (K Dawson). R5: Quinella 1-7: Arrokeefe (N McMulen) and Jakes A Joy (G Dixon). R6: Box trifecta 5-8-11: Feel The Courage (C Turpin)- Catcha Lefty (C Cini)- Avonnova (Mark Dux). R7: E/w 8: Overlap (C Turpin). R8: quinella 4-5: Midnight Prowler (N McMullen) and Pompidou (G Dixon). R9: Quinella 2-6: Our Diamond Edition (A Millard) and Heavens Hint (P McMullen). R10: Box trifecta 1-5-6: Its All Go (M Elkins)-Baltic Blue Eyes (A Gorman)-Shadow Pass (B Graham). R11: Box trifecta 3-4-9: Twice As Much (Wayne Graham)-Stoned Again (C Petroff)-Releven Dream (P McMullen). Honour board Trainers shared the success this week with Greg Elkins, Chantal Turpin, Ron Sallis, Bill Crosby and Jason Carkeet with two winners apiece. On the driver's side, Narissa McMullen nosed out dead heaters Pete McMullen, Matt Elkins and Gary Whitaker scoring five to four. Narissa was most pleasing as well, winning a national championship. Albion Park, December 15: Always My Mate (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Maretti (Chris McGeary for Phil Mitchell); Firebby (Danielle McMullen for Chris Monte); Seven Rippin Aces (Kelli Dawson for Jamie Donovan); Govinni (Hayden Barnes for Al Barnes). Albion Park, December 16: Parisian Rockstar (Narissa McMullen for Peter Greig); Mojo Major (Narissa McMullen for Kerryann Turner); Platinum Art (Matt Elkins for Kay Crone); Village Witch (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini). Marburg, December 16: Living Free (Justin Pascoe for Phil Keats); Cheyenne Warrior (Matt Elkins for Richard Hutchin- son); Riverleigh Jeff (Gary Whitaker for Tess Neaves); Elzboy (Adam Richardson for Steve Towns); Its All Go (Matt Elkins); Lots More Grins (Hayden Barnes for Wayne Davis); How We Roll (GaryWhitaker for Bill Crosby). Albion Park, December 19: Likes To Rock (Gary Whitaker for Vic Frost); Gloveman Gilly (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins); Sicilian Slumber (Danielle McMullen for Lachie Manzelmaan); Comply Or Die (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); Yankee Strutter (Trent Dawson for Max Towns). Redcliffe, December 20: My Mojo (Danielle McMullen for Jason Carkeet); Vader (Dan Russell); Cotton Cold Candy (Pete McMullen for Jason Carkeet); Georgia Grace (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey); Heavens Hurricane (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin). Redcliffe, December 21: Tascott Lady (Taleah McMullen for John McMullen); How We Roll (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); Cryptic Chance (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins); Monkseaton (Chris Petroff for Jay Edmunds); Mista Natural (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Punters Delight (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis). by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

One of Queensland’s top harness racing drivers has become the latest target of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission’s fight to clean up the industry. Mathew Neilson was yesterday charged with one count of match fixing, an offence carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years jail. “He’s the fifth person to be charged as a result of an investigation of match fixing and money laundering allegations in the harness code,” Commissioner Ross Barnett said. Neilson, 35, is known as one of the state’s most sought after freelance drivers, finishing third in the 2016/17 premiership. During that year, he drove horses that brought in more than $800,000 in prize money. The previous year he brought in more than $1 million. Harness racing driver Matthew Neilson has been charged with match fixing by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. So far, for the 2017/18 season, horses driven by Neilson have won 21 races. Neilson was charged by officers from the Racing Crime Squad. He was released on watch-house bail and will front court on December 12. His harness racing licence was immediately suspended. Fellow driver Barton Cockburn pleaded guilty to fixing two races, his lawyer telling a court last month that “everybody’s doing it”. Cockburn was warned off all tracks for life after pleading guilty to two counts of match fixing and one count of disclosing knowledge.   Detective Inspector Mick Dowie said the case into prominent racing identity Marshall Dobson was ongoing. In a separate case, harness racing identity Marshall Dobson was charged on October 31 under anti-money laundering and terrorism-financing laws with running a fake betting account worth millions. QRIC will allege the account was in operation for 10 years, and over one 16-month period, $1.77 million was moved through it. Major and Organised Crime Squad Detective Inspector Mick Dowie said their investigation was ongoing. “I would urge anyone with information about match fixing to come forward and contact police or Crime Stoppers.” Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000. by Kate Kyriacou, The Courier-Mail Reprinted with permission of The Courier Mail  

The investigative arm of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has struck again. This time it is high-profile harness racing media personality Marshall Dobson, who has been arrested and bailed to face court at a date to be set. The charges are "money laundering” through a fictitious betting account and the sums are believed to run into the millions. Dobson was at one time a popular choice as on-track Master of Ceremonies at major harness carnivals. With the election just a few weeks away, harness punters and harness participants want to hear that a commitment to iron tight control, and a punter friendly race format, will be the aim of all major parties. Join Marburg excitement THE countdown is on again as the Marburg Pacing Association heads prepares to host the postponed "Oktoberfest/ Harriott Memorial” race meeting. It has been rescheduled for Sunday November 12, with a projected nine race program. That includes the "Summerfest/Harriott Memorial”. It will feature two bookies plus "funny money”, two $100 lucky gate draws, $1250 "pick the last six winners” comp, monster raffle, craft beers from three boutique breweries with German sausage and sauerkraut to complement the lager and ale. The meeting will also have a Tug-O-War, a harnessing demonstration, the introduction of the "Costin Plastic” horse shoe, craft stalls, jumping castle and other attractions for the kids. Gates open at 11am. Meanwhile, the Marburg Pacing Association AGM is this morning after trials at 9.30am. Stable's high hopes THE Turpin/McMullen stable have exciting five-year-old Mattgregor starting at TABCORP Park, Menangle, tonight. Unbeaten in both starts this campaign, Mattgregor will head to Melton the following week for the Group 2 $75,000 4 & 5yo Championship. "He'll start this week at Menangle and that should top him off for the feature the following week,'' it was reported on the Australian Harness Racing website. "He's in great order and enjoys the surroundings at Menangle. "He's come through his trial last week in good shape and we're happy with the way he is right now.” Mattgregor won an Albion Park 1660m trial on October 24 in 1:54.9 while finishing off in 26.9 seconds. The Rob Roy Mattgregor gelding has won 12 from 24 to date. While the above is cause for joy, it is balanced by the news that stable star, Watch Pulp Fiction, sustained a tendon injury at his most recent start. Watch Pulp Fiction will be on the receiving end of sophisticated vet treatment for some time. It is not always "beer and skittles” in the world of harness racing, quite often the downs outweigh the ups. Extreme heat policy THE Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has released advice on caring for racing animals in extreme heat. "With summer almost upon us, it's a good time to be able to provide this advice through the Commission's extreme heat policy which sets out the key principles for caring for racing animals in hot weather,” Commissioner Ross Barnett said. "The policy defines the measures to be taken in hot weather when temperatures rise above 35°C including the allocation of extra staff and other resources to race meetings to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all racing animals.” The advice includes two fact sheets to assist with preventing and treating heat stress in horses and greyhounds as the two species respond to heat in different ways. The QRIC's extreme heat policy and associated fact sheets can be viewed at Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 1-5-6-8: War Dan Appollo (T. Moffat)-Feel The Courage (P. McMullen)-Polished Rocks (M Neilson)-Written In Red (P Diebert). R2: Quinella 2-4: Comply Or Die (N McMullen) and Shareapassion (P. McMullen). R3: Quinella 1-8: Lancelot Bromac (H. Barnes) and Withalotofluck (I. Ross). R4: Village Witch (N. McMullen) and Always My Mate (P. McMullen). R5: Quinella 2-5: Philanderer (M. Neilson) and Chal Fire (K. Dawson). R6: Quinella 1-7: Living Grand (H. Barnes) and Glenferrie Boss (C. Petroff). R7: Box trifecta 1-3-4-8: Projectile (K. Smith)-Only In Rome (T. Dawson)-Jakes Joy (G Dixon)-Domestic Art (H. Barnes). R8: Quinella 3-4: Win Or Die (N. Dawson) and Weedons Express (N. McMullen). R9: E/w 7: Ultimate Art (A. Sanderson). R10: Quinella 4-10: Heavens Hint (N. Dawson) and Firebby (C. Cini). Honour board Sisters in-law on the leader board this week with Chantal Turpin top trainer, leading in four winners, and Narissa McMullen driving for the same result in the sulky. Most pleasing is the continued success of ex-Sandgroper Michael Tenardi, with Top Flight Cruize at Redcliffe. Albion Park, October 27: Call Me Yours (Steven Doherty for Tess Neaves); Fon Ideal (Adam Richardson) for Donny Smith); Comply Or Die (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis). Albion Park, October 28: Flaming Hero (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins); Bettabe Perfect (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Always My Mate (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Wattlebank Flyer (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Village Witch (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Royal Counsel (Darrell Graham). Albion Park, October 31: Only In Rome (Isobel Ross for Trent Dawson); Timmo Time (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey). Redcliffe, November 1: Real Knuckey (Hayden Barnes for Peter Jones); Royal Counsel (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Heez Perfect (Gary Litzow); Summer Money (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie); Summer Money (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie); Cocoa Cheval (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); Top Flight Cruize (Michael Tenardi); Luv You Grazaella (Nathan Dawson for Merv Hieronymus). Redcliffe, November 2: The Restauranteur (Adam Richardson for Lee Storie); Lynchman (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen); Zenmach (Paul Matis); Master Montana (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); The Lunchbox Bully (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin); Magnussen (Lachie Manzelmann for Adam Richardson). by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

Senior thoroughbred steward Ian Brown has been appointed as interim chief steward for Queensland's harness racing industry. The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has been criticised for failing to fill the role on a permanent basis following the dismissal of David Farquharson in February. QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett said Brown would fill the role for three months while a recruitment process was undertaken. "He'll be joined by Neil Finnigan as the acting deputy chief stipendiary steward who is covering long service leave arrangements," Barnett said. Brown is the senior steward at the Gold Coast and often works in Brisbane. He filled the role of chief integrity officer for several months after Jamie Dart, who was eventually sacked, was stood down. "The QRIC is undertaking an international recruitment process to fill the chief steward's position because we want to be sure we attract the best candidates," Barnett said. "The commission is also preparing a recruitment process for a number of other senior roles including greyhounds chief steward and Director, stewarding licensing and registration." Mark Oberhardt Reprinted with permission of the ESPN site

Stewards opened an inquiry into the tactics adopted by harness racing driver Scott Rains on Illawong Lively in Race 5 at Albion Park on Tuesday, 15 August 2017. After taking evidence from Mr Rains, viewing the official race footage and giving regard to their own observations, stewards issued a charge under the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule 149(2) which reads: “A person shall not drive in a manner which in the opinion of the stewards is unacceptable.” Particulars of the charge being, that as the driver of Illawong Lively in Race 5 at Albion Park on Tuesday, 15 August 2017 Mr Rains drove in a manner which in the opinion of the stewards was unacceptable in that between approximately the 1700 metres and 1300 metres he issued a sustained challenge for the lead when that position was clearly unavailable and again challenged for the lead from near the 900 metres resulting in the gelding giving ground from approximately the 450 metres to be beaten in excess of 26 metres. Mr Rains pleaded guilty to the charge as issued. After considering submissions regarding penalty stewards suspended Mr Rains’ licence to drive in races for a period of four weeks to commence midnight, 23 August 2017. Stewards advised Mr Rains of his right to an internal review. Stewards Report Scott Rains Date:  21 August 2017 Panel:  S Shinn (Chair), K Wolsey, K Daly ............................................................................................................................   Stewards Report Darrel Graham Stewards today concluded an inquiry adjourned from Tuesday, 15 August 2017 into the driving tactics adopted by Darrel Graham, driver of Corrinyah Conman in Race 3 at Albion Park on that day. After taking evidence from Mr Graham, viewing the official race footage and giving regard to their own observations, stewards issued a charge under the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule 149(2) which reads: “A person shall not drive in a manner which in the opinion of the stewards is unacceptable.” Particulars of the charge being, that as the driver of Corrinyah Conman in Race 3 at Albion Park on Tuesday, 15 August 2017, Mr Graham drove in a manner which in the opinion of the stewards was unacceptable in that shortly after the start he restrained that gelding from a favourable one out one back trailing position to a less favourable position three back on the marker peg line to finish in sixth place beaten 8.8 metres. Mr Graham pleaded not guilty. Stewards considered Mr Graham’s submissions in support of his plea, however were of the view that the charge could be sustained and formally found him guilty of the charge as issued.  Under the circumstances Stewards deemed the appropriate penalty be a suspension of Mr Graham’s licence to drive in races for a period of 4 weeks commencing midnight, 22 August 2017. Mr Graham was advised of his rights to an internal review. Date:  21 August 2017 Panel:  S Shinn (Chair), K Wolsey, K Daly

A third case involving allegations of match fixing in Queensland harness racing has been adjourned for a month. Michael Kevin Grant, of Redcliffe, appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday charged with match fixing. His case was adjourned until August 30 for further mention and no further details of allegations were told to the court. Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said a harness racing participant, Grant faced one count of receiving inside information and three counts of possessing tainted property. "This is the third arrest as a result of a protracted investigation into alleged systematic match fixing in the harness racing industry," Barnett said. Detectives from the Queensland Racing Crime Squad attached to the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission made their first match fixing arrests in April. Barnett said on April 7, Warwick man Dayl March, 46, was charged with one count of match fixing and Limestone Ridges man Bart Cockburn, 27, was charged with four counts of match fixing. Their cases are ongoing. The QRCS is located within the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission at Albion and is tasked with investigating serious animal cruelty and major and organised crime across all three codes of racing. Mark Oberhardt - AAP

Race fixing, corruption, intimidation, threats, leaks and bashings – this was the year the traditional world of racing met the sophisticated world of law enforcement. Covert surveillance, coercive hearings and informant recruitment have all been used to uncover criminal activity in the first year of the newly established Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. It was the State Government’s answer to the horror of the live baiting scandal – images of piglets, rabbits and native possums torn apart by racing greyhounds splashed across the media, the footage uncovered by Animal Liberation Queensland. An industry that once policed itself would now be policed by one of the state’s most respected career detectives. Ross Barnett left his role as Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner to run the commission – a detective with 39 years’ experience who trained with the FBI and spent years on national counter-terrorism committees. Mr Barnett was chosen, deliberately so, because he had no knowledge of, or connection to, the racing industry. He took on the role knowing it would not be a popular one and said the past year had been a “steep learning curve which is unending”. Harness racing investigation Integrity on the agenda “Our first year has uncovered significant evidence of previous failures to investigate complaints about serious matters adequately or at all and the leaking of sensitive information to industry participants,” he said. “A lot of what we’re investigating is actually criminal in nature. More than just the rules of racing. The rules of racing can adequately be enforced by the stewards, generally. “But we’re talking serious animal cruelty – a seven-year crime. Match fixing or race fixing – a 10-year crime. The commission is not just addressing the rules of racing, but also animal cruelty. “This is high level crime, quite organised crime, and common sense tells you that you need the police and the police powers if you’re going to investigate a crime properly and that’s why we’ve been successful in laying race-fixing charges in our first nine months.” Not long after Mr Barnett took on his new role, he became aware of an alarming situation. In the months before the commission was established, an informant had come forward with allegations of race fixing. But the information was leaked, spread around, and before long, the informant was confronted at home by their partner about what they’d done. “So hence, that story gets around and people know they (integrity officers) can’t be trusted,” he said. “That was the sort of environment we needed to fix.” Today, the Racing Crime Squad, made up of Queensland police officers, and the Integrity Regulatory Unit are quarantined away, its staff working in locked rooms. Queensland's Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett was chosen because he had no previous connection to the racing industry. He says police powers are necessary to clean up corruption. Picture: Tim Marsden A corruption prevention officer from the Crime and Corruption Commission was brought in to talk on the importance of discretion when handling matters that could lead to criminal charges. And Mr Barnett used the Commission’s coercive powers – similar to those often used in the CCC’s secret Star Chamber hearings – in an attempt to uncover the source of the leak. “It’s a significant power which we use judiciously but it’s a valuable part of the arsenal,” he said. The investigation is ongoing but Mr Barnett said much has been done to ensure future informants can be sure they will be protected. In the past year, investigators have uncovered alleged animal cruelty, intimidation, threats, assaults and misconduct. “It has given me no joy to see a number of staff depart in the first year after investigations into a range of allegations of serious misconduct,” he said. Mr Barnett said the integrity of the racing industry was important in a climate where it is possible to bet on almost anything. Investigators on winning streak: OCTOBER 2016: A harness steward resigns amid allegations he gave harness trainers advance warning of stable inspections. JANUARY 2017: Yandina horse trainer David Ronald Gafa, 56, is charged with animal cruelty following allegations he drowned a four-month-old thoroughbred foal. FEBRUARY 2017: A 32-year-old Molendinar man is charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and two counts of common assault against three harness racing participants. The charges were the result of a four-month investigation into claims of intimidation and assaults. FEBRUARY 2017: A 62-year-old central Queensland man is charged with failing to comply with a welfare direction after 11 allegedly neglected racehorses are found on his Alton Downs property. FEBRUARY 2017: Chief Harness Racing Stipendiary Steward David Farquharson is sacked following an independent, external investigation into a complaint made by a racing industry participant. APRIL 2017: Queensland Police and the Crime and Corruption Commission join with QRIC to raid the properties of five harness racing participants amid allegations of systemic race fixing. Two men are charged with match fixing. MAY 2017: The Commission’s integrity regulation unit head is reassigned from his role following a complaint of misconduct. Norm Torpey was accused of not properly investigating a matter reported by a participant. MAY 2017: A cadet steward resigns after she was investigated for entering false information on a chain-of-custody document for a swab taken from a horse. By Kate Kyriacou, The Sunday Mail (Qld) Reprinted with permission of The Courier Mail

Queensland Racing Integrity Commission's integrity regulation unit head Norm Torpey has been permanently reassigned after an investigation into a misconduct complaint. Former police detective Joshua Elliot will manage the QRIC integrity unit while Torpey will be reassigned to the role as the senior harness racing steward, a position he has filled before.. QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett said the decision followed an independent investigation found Torpey had not properly investigated a matter reported by an industry participant. "A complaint was received from a member of the public about a matter that occurred before the Commission commenced in July last year," Barnett said. "As of Monday, Torpey has been permanently reassigned from his role as head of the Integrity Regulation Unit to a position as senior stipendiary steward in harness racing." Torpey was temporarily reassigned in March as the investigation took place. Under QRIC policy, Barnett would not elaborate further on the complaint made against Torpey. "The integrity of the QRIC is of the utmost importance and complaints or issues that arise involving our staff are taken very seriously and fully investigated," Barnett said. "People who provide us with information should be assured those matters will be properly investigated." Meanwhile, former chief harness racing steward David Farquharson is considering his legal options after he was sacked in February. Farquharson is believed to still be considering action for wrongful dismissal. He was stood down in December and then sacked in February after a complaint, the basis of which was not made public.   By AAP  

In the same week that Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) police raided homes, stables and charged a number of harness racing personalities over alleged widespread criminal activity, Racing Queensland announced a plan to overhaul harness and greyhound infrastructure in SEQ “in order to ensure racing is in the best possible position to grow and prosper”. Seriously. All in the same week! Note firstly, that this overhaul is all to do with greyhounds and harness clubs in SEQ. We won’t dawdle on the QRIC raids. They came as no real surprise, not even to the few survivors in a game that was once patronised from Cairns to the Gold Coast, with a trotting track in every major town between. Today only two tracks remain in Queensland – Redcliffe and Albion Park, which apparently is of doubtful tenure. Enough said. In his statement that was apparently designed to appease the stakeholders of a very nervous racing industry, Racing Queensland chairman Steve Wilson said clubs across the state will benefit from the infrastructure decisions the board has taken.  “Regions want jobs and people attractors. We’ve got money to spend to cause these and the will to get on with it. You can’t attract tomorrow’s customers with yesterday’s facilities.” CEO Eliott Forbes says the the projects will be funded by the Racing Infrastructure Fund (RIF) which has $63 million available now with a further $61 million of inflows expected from the UBET agreement up until 2023. That’s the scary bit. When is the election – and a much needed change of guard – you might well ask? There was a rumour doing the rounds last week that Townsville might be back in the running for a trotting track. Everyone dismissed it as a pure and utter furphy. God Forbid. Cairns, Mackay and Rocky as well? We can only hope there will be an election before government or RQ (or both) get their claws on the $124m. Not to mention the money that was wasted on this “detailed economic analysis and vision for racing”, performed by – wait for it – Deloitte. At what cost? Yes, you can only shake your head and wonder. The review identified that the state of current SEQ infrastructure for both harness and greyhound is inadequate for the future needs of those codes and does not meet the expectations of participants or customers. Did they look at dwindling TAB turnover and attendance figures at the trots? Obviously not! Surely if those at the top of RQ don’t know what’s going on (and obviously do not) within their industry, and require the services of Deloitte, well frankly they should not be in their highly paid jobs. But the waste of industry funds is not over yet. There will be an Expression of Interest process (EOI)  “to identify options for up to two new venues each for greyhound and harness racing to the south and west of Brisbane that have been identified as key growth areas for both codes”. Forbes said the EOI process is all about growth and creating a brighter future for racing. “To provide the best animal and participant welfare and the best platform for the future of racing we need some new world-class facilities and we believe our EOI process will create the competitive tension to achieve this”. Oh please, bring on the election. Honestly, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking the release was an April fool’s joke. But sadly it is serious, as unbelievable as that might be. NOT a line from RQ about the plight of 120 horses that had to be moved by their trainers from Rockhampton racecourse in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie. Not a murmur. Every horse had to be moved from Callaghan Park by noon last Monday and they headed north, west and south. The benevolence of Sunshine Coast based Stan Johnston has to be applauded. He will always be remembered for organising the massive hay drive at the height of the drought for farmers out west. For Mackay and Rocky trainers last week he organised sand with some financial assistance from the Queensland Trainers Association. It is still not known when horses can resume work at Rockhampton but there is still hope the track will be ready for racing in May. Meanwhile meetings already allocated to Rocky have been distributed to Yeppoon and Mackay for the remainder of April. The downside of that is Mackay will race on April 20 – the day before Townsville, which is a clash that should and could be avoided. The clash is certain to affect the numbers of horses at both meetings. How can that happen? NO one in Townsville is blaming the Cyclone, but there has been urgent work undertaken on the new course proper after the meeting last week. Cluden officially raced on a good 4 that day, but according to the jocks it was more like a soft 7 with large divots clearly visible particularly in the straight. Chief Steward Paul Gillard called an urgent meeting with the Turf Club next day and immediately set a work plan to rectify what has been generally recognised as the best track surface in Queensland. Chairman Malcolm Petrofski assures there has been no permanent damage. He forwarded photographs south for persusal by experts and it is believed the damage was caused by excess thatch that has now been removed. Stewards gave the track the thumbs up after an inspection on Thursday and it’s all “go” for Friday week. THERE is a vacant desk, we heard, at RQ headquarters and there is certainly no sympathy from a few around these ridges, especially Mackay and Townsville that were forced to negotiate with the now departed exec in recent months. We just wonder, however, whether the departed bean counter will be back to give his evidence when former Townsville secretary and  current TV presenter Michael Charge goes to appeal on that pathetic charge of failing to declare a minor interest in the horse Hotel Paradiso. Watch this space. Let’s just say there is definitely more to come and a couple yet to be named for their involvement in the fiasco that will surely end where it should – in the shredder. Reprinted with permission of The North Queensland Register

A Warwick man has been arrested in relation to what authorities have called a "loose cartel" of harness racing drivers and trainers involved in race fixing in Queensland. Trainer-driver Dayl March, 46 from Warwick, was this week arrested and charged with race fixing. It relates to Race 2 at Albion Park on November 12 last year, where it will be alleged March organised corruptly the outcome of that race. The 46-year-old was arrested following search warrants carried out by detectives from the Queensland Racing Crime Squad, attached to the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. In a press conference this morning, Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker said March has had his licence suspended and was due to face Brisbane Magistrates Court on May 10. "This is the first time an arrest has been made in relation to race fixing in harness racing in Queensland and further arrests are expected to be made," he said. "Once a person is charged with an offence relating to match fixing, their licence is automatically suspended. "The commission then has the power to suspend their licence for life." The maximum penalty for race fixing - a recent addition to the Queensland Criminal Code - is 10 years imprisonment. In the past week, police have visited properties of five harness racing participants in Warwick, The Gap, Logan Village, Redcliffe and Limestone Ridges as part of the joint investigation between the QRIC, Crime and Corruption Commission and Queensland Police. Detectives seized mobile phones, computers, documents and clothing that will now be forensically examined. Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said the investigation started just weeks after the commission was formed in July last year. "This has been a long- running investigation that highlights the importance of inter-agency co-operation," Mr Barnett said. "The investigation has identified a loose cartel of drivers and trainers involved in systemic race fixing ... who decide who will win the race and how they will win it. "We are not talking every race or even every race meeting, but certainly more than one race - it is more frequent than it is rare." Mr Barnett said there was no suggestion there was any involvement of stewards in race fixing and urged anyone aware of misconduct to come forward.  Darling Downs Harness Racing Club president Anthony Collins declined to comment.  Warwick Turf Club president Phil Grant said it was a shock to learn of the arrest this morning. "Though harness racing is separate to the thoroughbred racing, it's definitely not something we want to see Warwick in the news for," Mr Grant said. "It's not something I've ever seen before - I can't think of the last time there's been an allegation (of race fixing) in the thoroughbred industry.  "Racing Queensland brought in the commission to enforce the regulation and ensure no one is able to fix a race so now it's up to the courts to decide whether he's done the wrong thing." Mr Barnett said the commission ultimately hoped to improve confidence in the racing industry as a result of the investigation. "We think this could have a short term negative impact on confidence in the sport but in the long-term I believe this will be of benefit to the industry," he said. "This is solely the fault of the greedy and corrupt people who have participated in match fixing who have damaged the sport they participate in and claim to love. "I believe dealing with these issues will eventually lead to increased wagering confidence in the industry." Sophie Lester Reprinted with permission of  The Warick Daily News

Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards today conducted an inquiry into conduct exhibited by Dannielle McMullen (licensed harness racing driver) following a Stewards Inquiry at the Albion Park race meeting on Saturday, 11 March 2017. After taking initial evidence from Ms McMullen, Stewards issued her a charge under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHR) 247, which reads: A person attending before the Controlling Body its members or employees, the Stewards, officials, or at any proceeding under these rules, shall not speak or behave in a malicious, intimidatory or otherwise improper manner. The specifics being: That on 11 March 2017 when attending before the Stewards, Ms McMullen, did speak in an improper manner. Ms McMullen pleaded guilty to the charge. In assessing penalty, Stewards were mindful of Ms McMullen’s personal circumstances and her guilty plea. Stewards were also mindful of similar precedents and considered this her first breach under AHR 247 given that a similar conduct related penalty handed down on 11 March 2017 was still subject to an Internal Review. Stewards also considered the requirement that a penalty serve as an adequate deterrent to ensure that licensees conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. Stewards fined Ms McMullen $500. Ms McMullen was advised of her right to an Internal Review. Stewards’ Report – Dannielle McMullen Date – 03/04/2017 Panel – Ian Brown, Daniel Aurisch, Joshua Elliott

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