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Neerim Lodge born out of Aquanita Racing, no quest

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djebel View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 12:52pm

Neerim Lodge born out of Aquanita Racing, no questions answered


Australia’s newest racing stable has a name that is yet to feature on everybody’s lips, but Neerim Lodge is not so much new but born again.

It has for more than 20 years traded as Aquanita Racing, until this week, when the brand ­officially became no more.

That created more questions than it answered. The Weekend Australian sought to ask those questions of racing administrator Mike Symons, a non-executive ­director of Neerim Lodge and chairman of the Melbourne ­Racing Club, and Peter Howell, chairman of Neerim Lodge.

Symons referred our interview request to Brian O’Neil of Public Relations Exchange. After a flurry of emails, we were politely told there would be no update before next week and in the interim there would be no comment.

So what might readers have been keen to know about Neerim Lodge or its previous entity?

On January 12, in a written media statement, Howell foreshadowed the end of the Aquanita brand. This came three days after the issuing to eight individuals — with links past or present to Aquanita Racing — of a total of 271 charges under the rules of ­racing dating back as far as 2010.

Evidence was collated over three months and resulted from an operation carried out by Racing Victoria’s compliance assurance team at Flemington during the October 7 race meeting last year, where Aquanita’s then float driver Greg Nelligan was alleged to have been observed administering an alkalising agent to a horse named Lovani.

At the time it was trained by Aquanita’s No 1 seed, Robert Smerdon. The mare’s owner has since transferred her away to NSW. Other horses have moved stables, too.

It is alleged data on Nelligan’s mobile phone gave light to alleged systemic doping and the notification to punters that horses had been given their top-ups, the raceday treatment itself a serious breach of the rules. Nelligan faces 123 counts relating to 10 different infractions and Smerdon has 115. Smerdon and Stuart Webb, ­another Aquanita trainer, voluntarily stood down after show cause notices were issued.

Aquanita directors would not approach Racing Victoria with a view to brokering lenient penalties if guilt were to be established or a confession given, surely?

In a case where leniency cannot be tolerated, would racing not be a laughing stock? A cut in penalty just to gain a conviction — as happened once before in recent times — would be an indictment on all concerned.

Aquanita Management Services provided finance, taxation, ­occupational health and safety and other administrative services to contracted trainers, who were ultimately responsible for the preparation of racehorses in their care as well as compliance with the rules of racing.

Does a change of business name remove the stain? Does that course of action prior to the hearing of charges imply that those under the banner had allegedly done something so bad that a fresh start was needed?

While at pains to distinguish the degree of separation between the training arm and the administrative/management side of the business, during the period in question the directors have owned horses that were with ­contracted trainers.

Known for liking a bet, which is not a crime, these people are worldly and well-briefed by ­others at the track. No action has been taken by stewards against the directors, who were interviewed at length.

One might ask, however, if charges are sustained against trainers, who have been the public faces of their brand, should the ­directors, at the very least, be seen to have been derelict in their duty to the business?

Can they guarantee what is ­alleged to have happened on their watch won’t happen again?



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jujuno Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 5:01pm
gobsmacked that this is allowed...

 racing has a distinct odor...


Desert War, Rain Lover, Latin Knight, Hay List, Mustard...my turf heroes...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TJMitchell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 7:52pm
They are putting CCTV cameras in all stables and floats. Also, real-time provision of footage and telemetry data direct to RVL stewards.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote linghi11 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 8:28pm
Originally posted by TJMitchell TJMitchell wrote:

They are putting CCTV cameras in all stables and floats. Also, real-time provision of footage and telemetry data direct to RVL stewards.


When there’s a will...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote monty1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 10:03pm
Originally posted by TJMitchell TJMitchell wrote:

They are putting CCTV cameras in all stables and floats. Also, real-time provision of footage and telemetry data direct to RVL stewards.

Says who?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sworn Revenge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 10:10pm
Says their Chairman P Howell in a letter to the remaining owners
It's only called gambling when you lose
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shawy38 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 10:35pm
Same gelati different smell
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote monty1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2018 at 11:27pm
Originally posted by Shawy38 Shawy38 wrote:

Same gelati different smell

Totally agree. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a 🐷!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Passing Through Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 11:35am

 Sweeping new surveillance technology at Neerim Lodge

BREAKING STORY: Sweeping new surveillance technology at Neerim Lodge New surveillance measures have been deployed by Neerim Lodge, in the wake of raceday treatment allegations against a range of trainers and staff.
Article Author

Ben Dorries

Neerim Lodge will launch an unprecedented range of high-tech surveillance measures to monitor its trainers and stable staff in the wake of the race day treatment allegations which rocked Australia’s racing industry.

The re-named entity, formerly known as Aquanita Racing, will install CCTV cameras in all stables and floats as well as deploy telemetric technology in all vehicles and floats.

Telemetric technology involves the integration of GPS technology with computers and mobile devices to allow enhanced vehicle tracking.
Further, Neerim Lodge says it will provide real-time (live) footage and telemetry data direct to Victorian stewards.

The sweeping new surveillance measures were explained to owners by Neerim Lodge chairman Peter Howell who hosted a launch of the re-named management group on Thursday night.

“We will soon introduce (these) new measures to better monitor the handling of horses, and give owners greater confidence about the integrity and transparency of our operation,” Howell told owners.

“Implementation of these best-practice measures is an important investment in restoring and maintaining confidence from owners and other stakeholders. 

“We will continue to identify and implement other appropriate measures to ensure adherence with compliancy and racing rules.”
Howell also revealed how the business would shift its focus.

“Going forward, you will notice less emphasis on Neerim Lodge as a brand entity, and a greater focus on the trainers responsible for success on the racetrack,” Howell said.

The new security and surveillance measures come in the wake of Aquanita Racing (now Neerim Lodge) being swept up in a huge racing scandal, with trainers Robert Smerdon and Stuart Webb stood down pending an upcoming hearing of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board.

Smerdon facing 115 charges over the alleged systematic and illegal use of alkalising agents on horses which dates back to 2010.

Four other trainers and three stable employees face more charges over allegations of multiple offences.

On Thursday, trainer Tony Vasil agreed that any percentage of prizemoney earned by him in races conducted in Victoria from February 1, 2018 until the final determination of the charge laid against him, will be held by Racing Victoria.

Earlier in the week, Queenslander trainer Liam Birchley agreed not to race horses in Victoria for the rest of the racing season.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 3blindmice Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 11:55am
Monitoring and releasing betting records of EVERYONE on the payroll (minus names) would be a better option. They might also consider answering this question: did anyone on the management/administrative side profit significantly from bets on treated horses? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Batman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 1:23pm
I think Coles and Woolies have the same idea with their security cameras, and shoplifters still roam freely. Birchley must be feeling pretty lucky with the Queensland stewards decision to allow him to keep running horses.
So he cannot enter horses to race in Victoria until next season, yet can operate freely here, on the basis he intends to plead not guilty. He is facing multiple charges of (along the lines of) engaging in dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent practices. Being a party to administration of alkanising agents and or medications to horses on raceday.
Meanwhile Vasil conceded to prizemoney being withheld until his charges are heard and finalised.
Amazing really
Eight days a week
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote monty1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 1:34pm
So they are saying we have a pack of crooks under our Aquacheater umbrella and now we are going to watch them!!!
Who is going to monitor and pay for all of this high security to stop their own trainers from cheating?
I am dumbfounded why owners haven't left in droves.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carioca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 1:39pm
So who's gunna watch the watcha lol, I find this over the top and embarrassing for RV.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spearmint Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 4:27pm

Who pays for this system?
Who will do the monitoring?
So the Board does not trust any of their trainers or staff to do the right thing. They think that this statement about a surveillance system being put in place will now do what they should have been doing in the first place. Overseeing that their organisation had been doing the right thing.
It must be great to be employed in a place where big brother is watching your every move and it must be great to be the people monitoring and analysing all this activity non stop.

Just scrap this Aquanita model and let the trainers organise their own administration and be responsible for their own operation in totality.
"Nothing in the world is so powerful as an idea whose time has come"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carioca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 5:29pm
But..but........but how are they gunna get any " mail".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote djebel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 5:41pm
Originally posted by Spearmint Spearmint wrote:


Who pays for this system?
Who will do the monitoring?
So the Board does not trust any of their trainers or staff to do the right thing. They think that this statement about a surveillance system being put in place will now do what they should have been doing in the first place. Overseeing that their organisation had been doing the right thing.
It must be great to be employed in a place where big brother is watching your every move and it must be great to be the people monitoring and analysing all this activity non stop.

Just scrap this Aquanita model and let the trainers organise their own administration and be responsible for their own operation in totality.

I would have thought this was simply a private company doing exactly what the Hong Kong Jockey Club do for their trainers ?

I would not be surprised if ALL trainers would not like Clubs to this type of managerial work and let them just do the training.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote monty1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2018 at 6:51pm
The latest from the Aquacheaters.

Craig Tomson, part owner of Racenet is besties with Smerdon.

https://www.racenet.com.au/news/exclusive--ben-dorries-goes-one-on-one-with-neerim-lodge-aquanita--chairman-peter-howell-20180204
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote djebel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2018 at 7:09pm
Originally posted by monty1 monty1 wrote:

The latest from the Aquacheaters.

Craig Tomson, part owner of Racenet is besties with Smerdon.

https://www.racenet.com.au/news/exclusive--ben-dorries-goes-one-on-one-with-neerim-lodge-aquanita--chairman-peter-howell-20180204

If you were a journalist, would you ask him about his and other team members betting activities ?




STRIKE WHILST THE IRON IS HOT

reductio ad absurdum

The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote monty1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2018 at 7:23pm
Originally posted by djebel djebel wrote:

Originally posted by monty1 monty1 wrote:

The latest from the Aquacheaters.

Craig Tomson, part owner of Racenet is besties with Smerdon.

https://www.racenet.com.au/news/exclusive--ben-dorries-goes-one-on-one-with-neerim-lodge-aquanita--chairman-peter-howell-20180204


If you were a journalist, would you ask him about his and other team members betting activities ?



This journalist is employed by Racenet (Craig Tomsen), so obviously he is going to go softly, softly. Hardly asked hard questions!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RED HUNTER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2018 at 5:22am
Isn't this funny how THE TRAINERS are bunnies for others

You've got to laugh.


A word comes to mind.....UNTOUCHABLES


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote monty1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2018 at 6:52pm
Stewards allege 'circle of trust' in Aquanita case

Stewards allege 'circle of trust' in Aquanita case Robert De Niro’s character had a circle of trust in the Meet The Parents/Meet The Fockers movies and Victorian stewards allege those charged in the Aquanita case did too
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06 February 2018
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Stewards will allege there was a “circle of trust” between all those charged in the Aquanita raceday treatment case, which a senior Judge says has the potential to become the biggest racing inquiry in Victorian history.

In a directions hearing at Victoria’s Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) board on Tuesday, Racing Victoria senior counsel Jeff Gleeson told RAD board chairman Judge John Bowman:

“The stewards’ case will be there was a circle of trust amongst participants, they knew and they knew others did not know,” Mr Gleeson said.

“The thrust (of the case) from stewards is there was a knowledge across all of these people as to what was occurring.

“These cases are factually intertwined.”

Group I-winning trainers Robert Smerdon, Tony Vasil and Stuart Webb along with former trainer Trent Pennuto and stable staff Greg and Denise Nelligan as well as Danny Garland all did not enter pleas to their charges on Tuesday.

Group I-winning Brisbane trainer Liam Birchley pleaded not guilty to a charge that on three occasions he engaged in a practice that was dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent, improper or dishonourable, in that he was a party to the administration of alkalinising agents and/or medications to a horse or horses on a race day.

Five trainers and three stable employees have been charged with 271 counts under multiple racing rules following a dramatic sting in the Flemington stalls involving the horse Lovani during last year’s spring carnival.

The charges came after a mammoth investigation into seven years of alleged raceday treatment.

Judge Bowman declared the case should now be referred to as the Aquanita case, rather than the Lovani case, and left no doubt as to the gravity of the case.

“This will potentially be the biggest racing inquiry I can remember, given number of charges and number of people involved,” Judge Bowman said.

The case against the trainers and former Aquanita staff revolves around text messages, which allegedly reveal information about raceday treatment, but Webb’s legal team insisted: “There is nothing at all in text messages that implicates him.”

Gleeson told the RAD board the charges against all parties should be able to be heard in five days, but legal counsel for those charged claimed that schedule would be 'ridiculous'.

Judge Bowman agreed and said even setting a timeframe of six weeks to hear the charges may be on the optimistic side.

Bowman indicated he would aim for a date of April 30 to start hearing the charges while there will be a further directions hearing in the meantime on March 1.

Aquanita Racing has now changed its name to Neerim Lodge and introduced an array of new surveillance and security measures.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote skippy123 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2018 at 11:10am
If someone can cut and paste this one it would be appreciated.. interesting things are kept quiet bout this behind a paywall in the Australian.. Mail is that the international horse was our beloved Big Red...
http://archive.is/vUa3W
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote TJMitchell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2018 at 11:26am

Melbourne Cup runner named in doping investigation

A Melbourne Cup runner is named in documents connected to the biggest horse doping investigation the head of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board has seen.
This bombshell development came as board chairman Judge John Bowman convened a directions hearing in the case involving 271 breaches of the Australian Rules of Racing, allegedly by eight people.
“I think it’s potentially the biggest racing inquiry I can remember, given the sheer number of people involved and the number of charges,” Judge Bowman said.
The Australian can reveal one of many text messages retrieved from a mobile phone at the request of Racing Victoria’s Integrity department referred to a Melbourne Cup runner.
The phone was associated with a person who has been charged in connection with the alleged race day treatment of more than 100 horses during the past eight years.
The Australian has learnt that the text message revealed six other horses were to get an alkalising agent as they were shuttled into the birdcage area at Flemington racecourse throughout Melbourne Cup day.
The international horse named in the message did not win. It did, however, receive prize money. There is no suggestion of any corrupt practice having taken place at Werribee, where the visiting horses are quarantined.
The events leading up to the withdrawal of another horse, Lovani, who it has since been established had been under surveillance at Flemington on October 7, sparked a protracted investigation.
Judge Bowman requested it now be referred to as the Aquanita case. The eight people currently faced with a total of 271 breaches of the Australian Rules of Racing have all been trainers contracted to or employed by trainers contracted to Aquanita — a management services company. The same company has attempted to distance itself from those it provided financial, taxation, OH&S and other administrative services by rebranding itself Neerim Lodge.
Judge Bowman, chairman of the RAD board, told the hearing in his brief preliminary remarks how the case would proceed.
“It won’t be conducted like a criminal trial, or a series of criminal trials. It might borrow some procedures of criminal proceedings but it is not a criminal trial, it’s a disciplinary hearing,” he said.
Michael Grant-Taylor QC, instructed by Travis Schultz, entered a not guilty plea for Brisbane trainer Liam Birchley, while legal representation for the other seven charged indicated they were not yet in a position to enter a plea.
Racing Victoria legal counsel Jeff Gleeson QC, instructed by David Poulton of Minter Ellison, told the hearing the eight matters should be heard in the one proceeding rather than separate hearings. “We are firmly of the view all matters should be heard together. You will hear from others … that they are only relatively small participants in the proceedings, have relatively few charges against them or incidents that are the subject of the charge,” he said.
“We say the matter that emerges clearly from the stewards brief is that these are factually intertwined matters where it is the stewards’ case there was a circle of trust between the participants. They knew and knew that others did not know … there was a knowledge across all these people as to what was occurring.”
He said running eight separate matters would increase the likelihood those charged would have to be cross-examined multiple times, giving rise to the “risk of inconsistent findings and evidence”.
“Not to mention waste of time and money to effectively run in substance same sort of matter eight times over,” he said.
Gleeson estimated it would take five days, though this was labelled a “ridiculous” estimation but other parties, who guessed it would take at least several weeks. Judge Bowman said he would prefer the hearings to be held together but had not made a final ruling.
“My preference would be to hear them together. Whether it means everyone has to be present all day every day is another matter,” he said.
A hearing date was set for April 30 and a second directions hearing for March 1. At the end of the hearing, lawyer Tim McHenry — representing trainers Robert Smerdon, Stuart Webb and Daniel Garland — requested the hearing be closed to discuss something of a “delicate nature”. The court was emptied while the undisclosed matter was discussed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adolphus twirk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2018 at 10:41pm
Annus Mirabilis trainer SWebb. The link between big bets and who made them successfully and alleged race day treatments will be very interesting. Could turn out to be an Annus Horibilis more than anything else.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 3blindmice Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2018 at 11:25pm
Originally posted by adolphus twirk adolphus twirk wrote:

Annus Mirabilis trainer SWebb. The link between big bets and who made them successfully and alleged race day treatments will be very interesting. Could turn out to be an Annus Horibilis more than anything else.

Do they have that info? If so how wide did they cast the net? Any link between anyone associated with Aquaneerim and regular big wins on treated horses would be more than suggestive.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pnclick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2018 at 4:57am
They will have the bets from all approved operators and the individual names who made those bets, which I'm sure they are pouring over at the moment.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baghdad Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2018 at 9:38am
Have any of the contributors on this forum,ever heard of the term' bowlers' to place bets on your behalf ?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Red Hare Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2018 at 10:35am
Originally posted by Baghdad Bob Baghdad Bob wrote:

Have any of the contributors on this forum,ever heard of the term' bowlers' to place bets on your behalf ?

That thought crossed my mind, but the case from Stewards, at least the 'circle of trust' part, suggests a tight knit group. Teams of punters placing smaller bets under the radar would just add to the number of potential 'loose lips'.... perhaps that's where the scrutiny started?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote linghi11 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2018 at 11:09am
I would also be having a very close look at quaddie bets and the like- I believe they used to have a tip sheet in circulation. All it takes is a few pointers here and there -like my $2fav isn’t winning the 3rd leg in the quaddie, or my $12 pop in leg 2 has had some help, and over the years you can get a reasonable edge with almost untraceable outlays.
to the victor
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VOYAGER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2018 at 11:31am
Unless we see direct betting activity from the directors, I can not see how they can be held accountable.

Ever since the TAB has been around it has been used by criminals to launder money, so do we just shut every betting terminal down and just go online, where we can see a person's activities, who works as a mechanic, but is puting $500,000 through a year.

I agree with djebel. This model of training and administration should be implemented by race clubs. As we have seen here, if a private company does the admin, then they are caught up in any bad issues associated with the trainers and their staff.

   
Remember, it might take intelligence to be smart , but it takes experience to be wise
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