Charged trainers free to start horses

Harness racing participants charged in connection with a race-fixing and drug scandal are free to race the horses they train despite being barred from the country's racetracks.

Police charged 10 people over alleged race-fixing or drug offences this week as part of a 17-month investigation named Operation Inca.

Nine of those charged were banned from attending racetracks in New Zealand because of the serious nature of the charges.

However, there is nothing to stop the licensed trainers among the group from entering horses from their stables in races as soon as this weekend.

Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) general manager Mike Godber said his organisation was unable to answer questions about why those who have been charged were allowed to keep starting their horses.

"The RIU will make no comment on specifics that relate to the investigation and charges that are before the courts."

A prominent harness racing owner and punter whose name has been linked to Operation Inca told The New Zealand Herald he expected to be questioned by police when he returned to New Zealand tomorrow.

It was reported that Graham Beirne's property was one of several in Canterbury raided by police this week under Operation Inca, while he was in Bali.

Beirne said he welcomed the chance to tell his side of the story and could not wait for police to examine his computer.

Beirne is a successful Christchurch car dealer and long-time racehorse owner, who has a share in this year's New Zealand Pacing Derby winner, Sheriff. His racing interests are often listed under Small Car World Ltd.

Beirne said he was a prolific punter who often rang trainers and drivers seeking their opinions on races.

But he said he never paid them for information and had never offered inducements or rewards for what he was told.

Beirne said he had been told by police he would be detained for questioning when he lands in Auckland tomorrow.

"Initially when I heard about all this I thought it was a joke but now I see a lot of people being charged I am taking it far more seriously.

"But I will defend myself with everything I have as I haven't done anything wrong."

Beirne said his relationship with trainers and drivers usually involved him ringing them to seek their opinion on how his or other horses were. Sometimes he would bet and sometimes not.

"But I have never spoken to anybody about race-fixing. I am just looking for a tip or info, which people do in racing all the time."

Police spoke to persons of interest yesterday but no further arrests were made.

Add a Comment