ERAS­ING THE STAKES

Tri­bunal finds rac­ing stew­ards im­pos­ing bans without au­thor­ity

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - MATTHEW BENNS & ASH­LEIGH GLEE­SON

RAC­ING stew­ards have been pe­nal­is­ing train­ers, jock­eys, sta­ble hands and own­ers for of­fences like dop­ing or cor­rupt con­duct for years without the le­gal au­thor­ity to do so.

A de­ci­sion by the Rac­ing Ap­peals Tri­bunal yes­ter­day said that stew­ards were not em­pow­ered to use the tough rule that has been the ba­sis for a string of high-pro­file con­vic­tions in re­cent years.

But Rac­ing NSW CEO Pe­ter V’landys has as­sured race­go­ers that the de­ci­sion has high­lighted a le­gal glitch that has al­ready been fixed and that all ex­ist­ing penal­ties and sus­pen­sions still stand.

The le­gal tech­ni­cal­ity came to light when trainer Carl Poidevin ap­pealed against a stew­ards’ de­ci­sion to dis­qual­ify him for giv­ing false ev­i­dence about in­ject­ing his horse Mas­ter Agar be­fore a race at Kem­bla Grange in April.

The stew­ards used pow­ers del­e­gated from Rac­ing NSW un­der Aus­tralian Rules of Rac­ing rule 175 (AR 175) to pe­nalise the trainer but dur­ing the ap­peal it be­came clear those long as­sumed pow­ers had not been del­e­gated cor­rectly.

Rac­ing Ap­peals Tri­bunal head David Ar­mati yes­ter­day ruled that stew­ards are “not em­pow­ered to pe­nalise un­der AR 175.”

The same rule has been used to con­vict some of the big­gest names in rac­ing. Un­der AR 175 train­ers Dar­ren Smith and Sam Ka­vanagh re­ceived lengthy bans for cobalt use and mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man John Sin­gle­ton copped a $15,000 fine for the More Joy­ous scan­dal re­gard­ing claims of in­side in­for­ma­tion on the mare.

Mr Poidevin’s so­lic­i­tor Paul O’Sul­li­van said stew­ards had used AR 175 for years to dis­qual­ify and sus­pend train­ers, jock­eys and own­ers for of­fences con­tained in the act.

“To­day’s de­ci­sion in Poidevin con­firms they don’t have the power to do so,” he said.

Mr V’landys dis­missed sug­ges­tions the rul­ing would open the flood­gates for sus­pended and dis­qual­i­fied rac­ing fig­ures to ap­peal against the de­ci­sions made against them.

“We don’t be­lieve this will have any reper­cus­sions what­so­ever. Their pun­ish­ments still stand.”

He said the rul­ing by the Rac­ing Ap­peals Tri­bunal was a “pro­ce­dural de­fi­ciency that has al­ready been rec­ti­fied”.

The pow­ers used by stew­ards to po­lice rac­ing had been cor­rectly del­e­gated to Mr V’landys as the CEO of Rac­ing NSW but were then del­e­gated to the chair­man of stew­ards rather than a com­mit­tee of stew­ards as re­quired. Those pow­ers have now been cor­rectly rec­ti­fied.

How­ever there are sug­ges­tions other rac­ing fig­ures who have fallen foul of the stew­ards could use the de­ci­sion to try to ap­peal their sus­pen­sions and dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“They would sim­ply be wast­ing their time and in­cur un­nec­es­sary le­gal fees,” said Mr V’landys. “I still have the power and I will con­firm the con­vic­tion and the penal­ties that have been ap­plied.”

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