Punter Anthony Gardiner warned off Australian racecourses after failing to front Racing NSW stewards in Astern bet probe
November 18, 20167:25pm
Brad Davidson,The Daily Telegraph
ANTHONY Gardiner, the Sydney punter caught up in the James McDonald betting investigation, has been warned off all Australian racecourses and can’t place a bet until he attends Racing NSW headquarters to be interviewed.
Racing NSW chief executive Mr Peter V’landys made the interim decision on Friday as Gardiner’s refusal to provide the information required is hindering stewards’ investigations into potential serious breaches of the rules of racing.
“No individual’s interest should outweigh the confidence of the public, and particularly punters, in the integrity of the industry,” V’landys said.
“Racing NSW has zero tolerance for those that obstruct and hinder the maintenance of the integrity of thoroughbred racing in New South Wales.”
The consequences of being warned off include not being permitted to enter any Australian racecourse or training facility, not being able to have an interest in any thoroughbred racehorse and not being able to place a bet on thoroughbred races with a wagering operator.
It comes as jockey McDonald was earlier this week charged by stewards under rule AR 83 (d) for allegedly having an interest in a bet on Astern, the horse he rode, to win at Randwick on December 5 last year. Astern, who was making his debut, firmed from $4.60 to $3.50 before saluting.
Stewards are not suggesting McDonald, 24, personally placed the bet but believe he had an interest in a wager that was placed.
Stewards were informed of his association with Gardiner at a regular meeting with law enforcement agencies recently.
There is no suggestion Gardiner will be charged or committed any wrongdoing.
James McDonald celebrates after riding Astern to victory on debut last year. Pictu Simon BullardSource:News Corp Australia
Meanwhile, the potential two-year ban McDonald faces if the charge is upheld is not set in stone and could be reduced.
McDonald, Sydney’s champion rider last season, faces a two-year ban under the Australian rules of racing if found guilty but Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestal on Friday confirmed the minimum penalty for rule AR 83 (d) “applies unless stewards establish special circumstances”.
“(Special circumstances) can be a guilty plea, assisting stewards at an early stage of the investigation and there are a few other conditions there- for instance impaired mental functioning or persons under duress,” he said.
“Generally they are the provisions in which we could reduce a mandatory minimum.”
Van Gestel stressed he was speaking in general terms and not specifically about this case.
Australian racing rules around jockeys betting on races were strengthened in March, 2013 in response to the 10-month ban hoop Damien Oliver received in 2012 after admitting to placing a $10,000 bet via a third party on a rival horse.
The updated rules carry a mandatory two-year ban for any jockey who has a bet or interest in a bet on their mount in a race, or any race for that matter even if they aren’t riding in that event.
The mandatory ban increases to three years if the bet relates to a horse the jockey is competing directly against, such as the Oliver scenario in 2012.
Stewards are yet to reveal whether any other jockeys are involved with the McDonald investigation.
“Unless someone is charged with an offence, we won’t be releasing persons names that are being interviewed,” Van Gestel said.
Stewards have not spoken to McDonald since Tuesday when he stood himself down from riding after being issued with the charge.
McDonald faces an uncertain future as the Australian stable rider for Godolphin with a guilty finding likely to see him being replaced in that position.