Charges prompt inquiry into alleged race-fixing

HARNESSRacing NSW has begun its investigation into alleged race-fixing across the North West, launching an inquiry in Tamworth yesterday.

The inquiry is looking at several races in the North West and Hunter areas, in particular between February and May this year.

Three investigators will head up the inquiry including Harness Racing NSW deputy chairman of stewards, Chris Paul, integrity officer John Zucal and former police officer, Bill Beekman.

Mr Paul said the inquiry heard from eight people who were called to appear yesterday.

“Only one man hasn’t presented himself and that is Mr Mabbott and that is on advice of his solicitor, due to the fact that he has matters before the court,” Mr Paul told The Northern Daily Leader.

Anthony Mabbott was named by media outlets last month as the 34-year-old Duri harness racing trainer charged with four offences including two counts of facilitating conduct that corrupts the betting outcome of an event as well as two charges of use corrupt conduct information to bet on event.

Strike Force Trentbridge raided a home on Werris Creek Rd at Duri on May 27.

He has been granted bail to appear in Tamworth Local Court on June 24.

The harness racing inquiry was prompted after raids by police attached to Strike Force Trentbridge, which has resulted in three men in total charged over alleged race-fixing incidents across both thoroughbred and harness racing.

“We are interviewing several licensed people, as in trainers and drivers,” Mr Paul said.

The interviews surrounded associations, contact, tactics and circumstances of several different races.

“We’ve asked for phone records from several licensed people that we have interviewed today and we’re also getting betting information pertaining to the races, but that’s yet to become available,” he said.

“We intend to speak with several owners after the evidence given today.

“We’ve taken a quantum of evidence and what we’ve taken today is significant, and we have got a lot of information to digest and consider.”

And they haven’t ruled out returning to the North West.

“There may be registered people who do become people of interest based on evidence we receive and the investigation,” he said.

Investigators say they need to tread carefully, but warn there will be consequences for breaching the rules.

“People could face charges under Harness Racing NSW rules and the potential penalties could be quite severe,” Mr Paul said.

“This inquiry is central to ensuring the integrity of harness racing and restoring people’s faith in the industry.

“Harness Racing NSW will thoroughly investigate and pursue any matters that have the potential to damage the image of the industry.”

Mr Paul said they want to ensure people have an understanding of the integrity department.

“There is no place for those who believe they can behave in the manner that brings the industry into disrepute,” he said.

The investigation now heads to the Hunter area today where the inquiry will hear from four people.

“Once we complete the interviews and consider the evidence, then it will be dependent on where the inquiries take us,” Mr Paul said.

Racing NSW is yet to set a date for its inquiry into the developments surrounding Strike Force Trentbridge.

Stewards have maintained they were waiting for the results of blood and urine tests from Prussian Secret, which were due to be returned on Monday.

A  MATTER  OF INTEGRITY: Harness Racing NSW deputy chairman of stewards Chris Paul is in Tamworth to investigate race-fixing allegations. Photo: Gareth Gardner 040613GGC02

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