WA’s peak horse racing authority has been rocked by allegations of systemic race fixing involving Eastern States betting syndicates, with up to 10 WA jockeys on their payroll.
In an extraordinary letter last month to racing industry leaders, including Racing and Wagering WA chief executive Richard Burt, the author highlighted five races since December that he believed were “manipulated” by the syndicates.
“The information I have accumulated isn’t just the races that have been fixed,” he wrote.
“I also have the list of individuals involved and the mobile telephone numbers associated with most of those individuals.”
Mr Burt said yesterday the allegations were taken seriously and investigated by an expert panel, which found no evidence to substantiate the claims after studying video evidence of the races.
“We treated it at the highest level,” Mr Burt said. “We believe the claims are inaccurate. We would argue the races were in accordance with the rules of racing.”
The letter, which was obtained by _The West Australian _ amid speculation its author is a leading Perth jockey, named four other jockeys allegedly involved in Perth and country race day stings.
None of those jockeys was spoken to as part of the RWWA inquiry.
“The past 12 to 18 months in WA racing have been the worst I have ever known for race manipulation,” the letter said. “I should know as I have been involved indirectly.”
The author called on race officials to investigate phone records and money trails that led to suspected jockeys.
He described the betting syndicates as “well-oiled machines” that used the teams of jockeys to set up wins for horses that have been the targets of significant betting plunges.
“The bottom line is that what is occurring on the track is systematic abuse,” he wrote. “It is insider trading as inside knowledge is being used for financial gain. If the truth did come out it would be very embarrassing for RWWA and the State Government.”
Mr Burt agreed there was a perception in the industry that a lot of money was being wagered in WA from syndicates in the east.
“It’s important to manage the reality and the perception of integrity in the industry,” Mr Burt said.
“We’re putting on another investigator. We’ll be seeking more pre-race analysis and betting information so we can see what’s happening in the betting markets and how the race should unfold according to those betting markets.
“What we have to be careful of is not overreacting to normal things that unfold in racing.”
The letter said one of the methods used by the syndicates was to organise jockeys to allow a horse which naturally leads out in a race to stay in front and win. In one example given, the price for the horse shortened significantly before the start and the horse was a surprise winner.
“Apprentices have limited involvement, but that will change,” the letter’s author wrote. “The breeding ground is toxic and something has to be done. Your next generation could be totally tainted.”
In February, RWWA completed an inquiry into separate claims about race fixing by a Sydney betting syndicate and found “misinformation and unfounded speculation” were behind the allegations.
RWWA said at the time there was no evidence of inconsistent betting patterns or any correlation to a rider’s mounts being backed.
But in the letter last month, RWWA was warned if no action was taken over the allegations it would be referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission.
The author claimed to have provided all the information to a lawyer.
“Go back a couple of weeks,” he wrote. “The race was won by (name deleted). I can assure everyone the race was well and truly determined before the gates opened.”
Mr Burt said he was not interested in the author’s identity and accepted that whistleblowers were needed in racing.
“We’ve investigated it,” he said. “We’ve put it to the highest people in the industry. We’ve committed more resources.”