21 December 2012

Stewards "concessions" pose puzzling questions...

Is that Perry Mason in the birdcage? Or is it Jack McCoy? Or maybe it's... Denny Crane? No, it's RVL Steward Rob Montgomery, who appears perfectly happy to claim responsibility for the conduct of RVL's ham-fisted Oliver investigations. Here's Montgomery quoted in today's SMH:
''Yes, (Mark) Hunter had helped us during the course of the inquiry. And he had earned concessions for doing so. After all, it was his information that brought about the Oliver case. However, it is still an ongoing situation,'' he said.
Didn't The Age also have something to do with it? Anyone who wants open and transparent conduct of integrity assurance in Australian racing, must find those words "earned concessions" very troubling. By what discretion do stewards have the power to make such seemingly ad hoc calculations? Where is the ready reckoner which charts what level of 'cooperation' with stewards grants an "indemnity" to the Australian Rules of Racing? 
And what strange and beguiling stewards Victoria has, that they would hand out "concessions" like dog biscuits to those who they know have broken the rules they are duty bound to enforce. And as reward for what? Unsworn testimony in 'without prejudice' proceedings that rather than bring swift justice delivered an unconscionable delay.

Like the Spanish Inquisition, these inquiries are still "ongoing". Montgomery, who was promoted to Deputy Chief Steward on Aug 1, six days before the ABC aired the Four Corners programme on corruption in Victoria racing, is waiting for Hunter to get back to him with a bit more info. No worries. Take your time... By the way, why is the conduct of all this so incredibly slow?

No time to answer that question. Inquiries are still "ongoing". But, pause to consider RVL's actions in this matter:
  • They speak openly in the media about granting "concessions" to the man who knew full well he was party to breaking an Australian Rule of  Racing in placing the bet. 
  • They refuse to admit for weeks they are even investigating Oliver let alone  apply AR 175A (conduct prejudicial to the image of racing) to the jockey named in the media as breaking the rules.
  • Then they use AR 175A to come down like a ton of bricks on the alleged courier, Robert Smerdon, for, wait for it... not asking questions of either of the other parties! 
We haven't been told if there were any other bets placed by Hunter on Miss Octopussy. We don't know how many other bets (if any) Hunter has placed for other jockeys over the years. We don't even know if Stewards bothered to ask.

Must have been tempting for Hunter not to have a go himself when he knew the jockey on the second favourite had backed his main rival. Why aren't stewards asking Hunter why he shouldn't be warned off?

Why haven't stewards asked all these players the obvious questions in public and under oath months ago? And what's Sal Perna been up to? Didn't Racing Minister Denis Napthine tell him to find out how Montgomery's panel had made a right mess of this affair by allowing Oliver to ride through the Spring carnival? Brendan Cormick in the Australian today:
"Reports to be handed down by Victoria's Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, have been delayed and will not be released until early next year." 
Summing up, Cormick notes:
"An anonymous tip-off to Perna's office during his inquiry, initiated following reports in the media of race fixing, led to Oliver being brought to account."
Let's ditch this fallacy once and for all that Stewards don't read the papers. And likewise the bizarre notion that Stewards could not and should not have been proactive in hauling in Oliver the very same day The Age named him as betting on a rival runner. What in Carbine's name are these stewards paid for if not to do nothing less than that?
Do have a safe and happy Christmas, turf lovers. Thanks for reading and a special thanks to all those readers who've taken the time to contact us with messages of support and constructive criticism.

More mayhem in the new year.

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