The Australian Trainers’ Association (ATA), like the rest of the racing community, was shocked with yesterday’s Racing Victoria (RVL) news release that five Victorian trainers, together with three of their staff, had been charged with alleged breaches of the Australian Rules of Racing. There were a myriad of offences listed - 271 in total - including a number associated with raced day treatment.
This news was unprecedented in terms of the licenced persons charged, the number of offences and incredibly, the period (2010 to 2017) these offences were alleged to have occurred over.
Simply stated, pre-meditated actions which breach the Rules of Racing, including the use of medicines and therapeutics to enhance racehorse performance, cannot and must not be tolerated in racing. No one advocates for this practice, certainly not the ATA, the participants broadly, or the Racing Authorities who are responsible for policing the sport.
As this process unfolds through the Racing & Disciplinary Board hearing, detail that supports the charges will become clearer to all. Equally, those charged will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations. Until then, as with any judicial system, the eight persons are entitled to the presumption of innocence, and should be afforded the appropriate courtesies where this involves comment in the media or public domain.
On a separate but equally important point, it is during moments like these that the racing community as a whole also has a responsibility. In short, we must work hard as a collective to ensure a balanced narrative appears in the media and with the public.
On the subject of our industry, by the numbers, Victorian racing supports the employment of some 30,000 (full and part time) people. On course, we have a participant base made up of 8,752 registered racehorses, 168 race jockeys and 850 racehorse trainers. Supporting the participant base are 68,000 registered owners, and more than 1,000 active breeding studs.
As with any sport, there are times where individuals seeking to gain an unfair performance advantage will breach the rules. These parties, if found guilty, are dealt with in the appropriate manner.
Let us be very clear that in racing, those guilty of similar type rule breaches are very much in the minority. For the majority of participants however who daily abide by the rules of racing, they should be recognised and appreciated for their behaviours, contribution and commitment to the sport, and not left to be defined by the mannerisms or outcomes from these infrequent or isolated events.
As an industry, let’s ensure we are united on this front.
Chief Executive Officer