CHIEF steward Ray Murrihy last night said there were no jockeys in NSW with current links to outlaw bikie gangs after Brenton Avdulla was warned by police for consorting with members of the Comanchero.
Avdulla yesterday told The Daily Telegraph he had quickly cut all ties with the people in question once it was pointed out who they were.
Racing stewards first received intelligence about Avdulla associating with Comanchero last September and promptly passed the matter on to the Casino and Racing Investigation Unit.
Earlier this month, the unit cleared Avdulla of having any further contact with the Comanchero but issued him a warning for consorting with an outlaw bikie gang.
Avdulla will next Monday front Racing NSW’s licensing committee. His hearing was brought forward after they learned of the police warning.
While it is highly unlikely the 23-year-old will be denied a new licence to ride in races, Avdulla expressed his disappointment at being unwittingly caught up in the latest drama.
It was only last year the jockey made headlines for conduct in a toilet cubicle at an eastern suburbs hotel.
The bikie link also comes just two days after racing finally put to bed the More Joyous saga.
“As soon as I found out who they were, that was the end of it,” Avdulla said after his only ride at Canterbury.
“I guess it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s disappointing because I’ve worked so hard the past eight months getting the support of trainers, and then this comes out (in the press), which happened eight months ago. It’s nothing that has been turned into something.”
Murrihy said the Casino and Racing Investigation Unit had since contacted Racing NSW and confirmed the contact between Avdulla and the bikie gang had ceased. The unit added there were no issues warranting investigation.
Murrihy said there were no other jockeys under the spotlight, despite young hoops being prime targets for criminal gangs.
“Jockeys are young, have a lot of money and are impressionable, and so they can be easy targets for these groups endeavouring to recruit people,” Murrihy said. “We have to ensure jockeys’ conduct away from the track doesn’t impact on the image of racing, and we certainly can’t have a situation where a jockey is having a social relationship (with bikies) and continue to participate.
“There are no other jockeys currently in NSW that have an association.
“We don’t have any information of other links.
“You only have to look at state legislation now where it is an offence to consort with bikies, and if you receive three warnings, you’re entitled to a penalty.”
Avdulla has emerged as a force in the riding ranks in the past six months, and punched home a few winners during the autumn carnival, including Arinosa in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes.