The Chief Steward of Queensland Harness Racing Has Brought the Sport Into Disrepute – David Farquharson Must Be Immediately Stood Down and His Conduct Referred to the CCC

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This is the Stewards report from Albion Park on Saturday night.

I want you to look at and read the Supplementary Report.

Then I want you to rip it from the page, put a match to it and burn it to a crisp.

Why?

Because it’s an absolute lie. A sham. A totally dishonest rendering of a tale about something that just didn’t happen.

Tori May didn’t gallop three strides out from the winning post in the last race the Saturday night before. It galloped five strides out.

That’s just a fact correction, but its not the main issue.

The main issue is that what the Stewards are telling you simply isn’t true.

It was not established AFTER the all clear that Tori May had galloped before the line.

The brilliant race caller Chris Barsby had broadcast it before the field had even hit the winning line.

This is how Barsby called it, word for word:

Tori May galloped, Slippery Jade kicked …. Oh what a finish! They’re stretched across the track. Slippery Jade, Joannie’s Girl, Presleybegood and the galloping Tori May ….hold your tickets ….

Barsby knew the harness racing rules, and I do too.

I’m not at all sure that the people paid to police them do.

Here is the relevant rule 155A:

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It’s pretty straightforward isn’t it?

If a horse is galloping as it crosses the winning line, it must be relegated to a finishing position behind any horse whose nose covers any part of the galloping horse’s body.

This is the finish of the race in question.

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As you. me, my dead mother and Blind Freddie down the road can clearly see, the horse in the green one from the fence and number 6 in the white and pinkish colours have their noses covering the galloping Tori May on the outside’s body.

It was a no brainer.

Tory May should – must – have been immediately relegated to 5th place, prior to the Stewards giving the all clear signal.

But he wasn’t, and there the road to Chief Steward David Farquharson’s immediate departure from the sport forever must surely begin.

For those unfamiliar with harness racing, once the all clear signal sounds the results of the race for wagering purposes are final, and cannot be altered. Even if the finishing positions are later amended for prizemoney or grading purposes, bets are still paid only on the initially declared placings.

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This creates a major issue, one which damages public confidence in the sport of harness racing so severely that if it is not addressed, then QRIC might as well just shut the doors, turn out the lights, and leave the trots to the wolves.

Tori May was the favourite in the race.

There were three winning trifecta tickets in the race. The owners of those tickets had correctly selected the first three horses over the line, and each of those lucky punters received a dividend of $662.30 for their $1 investment.

They shouldn’t have though, and now no-one knows whether the Stewards failure to apply the rules by immediately disqualifying Tori May was an unacceptable error, unthinkable negligence, or something far, far worse.

Let me make it clear – I am not suggesting in any way, shape or form that the Steward’s failure to disqualify Tori May before the declaration of all clear was an act of official corruption. But I can’t be sure that it wasn’t either, and therein lies the first stage of the great public confidence problem.

It’s bad, real bad, but the Chief Steward or his delegate’s subsequent conduct and actions make it a whole lot worse, as about as bad as an integrity crisis can get, and renders David Farquharson’s position as Chief Steward of Queensland Harness Racing untenable.

Farquharson is the most senior integrity official in the sport.

He has produced an official Steward’s report that is demonstrably false, and on a prima facie basis almost certainly designed to deceive.

Despite what the Supplementary Steward’s Report says, until last night Tori May had never been disqualified from its third placing in the relevant race, and according to the publicly available records it has still not been.

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The images above  are the official results of Race 10 at Albion Park on 29 February 2020, as displayed on the Racing Queensland and Harness Racing Australia websites. As you clearly see, Tori May is not listed on either record as having been disqualified.

Our Chief Steward is lying to us.

It’s not the first time either.

A couple of years ago David Farquharson was found to have lied during an inquiry into a positive swab to cobalt thrown by a runner at a Deagon picnic meeting trained by a man named Neale Scott.

Neale Scott was, and remains, one of the most respected figures in Queensland harness racing history. He has won multiple driving premierships, competed in Group 1 races in six states and two countries, and for many years tutored young reinspeople at the Racing Queensland training school.

In a career spanning more than four decades no horse trained by Neale Scott had never thrown a positive swab to anything. He was as straight as a die and as clean as a whistle, and until he decided to fight back by becoming an internationally renowned expert on false cobalt readings, the finding against him nearly ruined his life.

Yet it was all based on a lie.

Scott believed that the tack room that was being used as a temporary swab stall at the picnic meeting had been contaminated by various chemicals and other substances having been stored there, and raised this issue as a defence during the hearing of the matter. If it could be proven that the sterile area may have been contaminated, then the Scott’s rule breach charge over the positive swab would be immediately thrown out the door.

Enter Chief Steward Farquharson.

He gave unequivocal testimony that he had personally inspected the tack room turned swab stall in the weeks prior to the picnic meeting, and had followed the necessary procedures to ensure that the testing area was contamination-free.

The problem was that Farquharson could not possibly have done what he swore he did, for he was at the coast on holidays at the time.

The Chief Steward was lying, and he got caught bang to rights.

Quite rightly, QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett sacked him.

That should have been the end of that, and of Farquharson’s stewarding career, but in one of the most extraordinary decisions that I have seen in near on 30 years working in the field of employment relations, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission upheld an appeal that Farquarson brought against his dismissal, and ordered his reinstatement to the role of Chief Steward.

He’s been there ever since, but Commissioner Barnett cannot allow him to be there a second longer. Integrity in every code of racing means less than nothing if he doesn’t act.

Harness Racing is a business funded by taxes and commissions drawn from billions of dollars in betting turnover. Given that much of the wagering is made and paid in untraceable cash, the scope for corruption in the sport is huge. The officials running the sport must be squeaky clean, and their leader must be of irreproachable character.

David Farquharson by his conduct does not meet that essential criteria. He is a liar, he is a deceiver, and he has committed a fraud upon the entire industry, it participants, punters and indeed the people of Queensland.

Farquharson must be stood down from duty immediately, and his duplicitous and utterly dishonest conduct must be referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission for investigation as misconduct in office, or potentially even official corruption.

Doing nothing is not an option.

The Chief Steward must go.

 

 

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