ERASING THE STAKES
Tribunal finds racing stewards imposing bans without authority
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.”