Former Gundagai hoop Billy Owen is among a number of ACT-based racing figures to earn three month suspensions following an illegal gathering in Canberra recently.
Racing NSW Stewards had investigated the presence of jockeys and stablehands at private social gathering at a residence in the ACT suburb of Harrison on Saturday, August 28.
The Stewards subsequently issued a charge of conduct prejudicial to the interests of racing to Owen, apprentice jockey Teaghan Martin and stablehands Talan Hill, Vicky Scott, Meg Maguire and Skye Stollery and a former Canberra Racing Club Committee Member/registered owner, Daniel Gaul.
Racing NSW had alleged that the gathering was in breach of the ACT Government’s stay at home orders.
It argued the gathering increased the risk of endangering the health and safety of ACT and NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry participants that they came into contact with on that day, and in the days subsequent in respect to the possibility of spreading COVID-19, and that it had the potential of compromising the continuance of thoroughbred racing in the ACT and NSW.
It was established during the inquiry that Owen, Hill and Scott were the residents of the property and the remainder – Martin, Meg Maguire and Stollery, and Gaul – were visitors.
In a statement, Racing NSW said Stewards took submissions from each of the people at the gathering.
“They also gave consideration to the need for the penalty to reflect an individual and general deterrence and the seriousness of the conduct in that the conduct had increased the risk of endangering the health and safety of racing participants and has compromised the continuance of Thoroughbred racing in the ACT and NSW,” the statement read.
Stewards determined that the appropriate penalty be three months suspension of license in full for each.
All suspensions were backdated to August 30 being the day they were stood down following initial interviews with Stewards. The suspension will end November 30.
ACT Health and ACT Police have been informed of the alleged social gathering with ACT Police enquiries ongoing.
Canberra Racing Club Chief Executive Officer Andrew Clark said: “I am extremely disappointed in the decision made by these individuals to gather socially at a private residence at this time. This is not the appropriate behavior of participants within our Industry and I am thankful that Stewards have handed down these punishments.”
“The alleged actions of these individuals are strongly condemned by the Club and overwhelming majority of the industry whose strong compliance with relevant Covid-19 mandates have ensured the continuance of racing throughout the pandemic across Australia.”
Meanwhile, it’s been a tough opening to 2021/22 racing season, with 16 community and picnic meetings already been abandoned due to Covid, while several more have been called off due to wet weather, including last Sunday’s scheduled Gundagai meeting.
The ‘lost’ prize money pool totals $843,500 – of which racing NSW were up for $666,250 as ‘base prizemoney.
Since August 1, Racing NSW have responded, adding jut three extra meetings, hosting two picnic race days at Coonamble (August 7) and Gunnedah (August 28) and a community meeting at Gilgandra (August 28), while adding one extra race (yes, you read that right, just one race) to the Armidale SKY 2 meeting on Saturday September 11.