The 2013 Group Two Ballarat Cup was a sensational race between two of the best horseshoe sprinters we have seen, but the previous weeks heats are full of controversy. The first of the cup heats was “officially” won in the speedy time of 25.346 by promising young dog Deadly Vane, and that is the race in question.
Put simply, the time was wrong. Not by a length, not by half a length, but by a hectare. In reality, Deadly Vane crossed the line in a sensational 25.09, making him the fastest heat winner.
On a night where there were seven heats run, the fastest second placegetter qualified for the final. This meant the timing error had huge ramifications for connections of Ferly Reign who was “officially” given the time of 25.48. However Ferly Reign actually ran close to 25.19 and was in reality the fastest second placegetter, and worthy of his place in the final.
Australian Racing Greyhound spoke with Anthony Azzopardi, the trainer of Ferly Reign.
“I knew as soon as the race was over there was a problem with the time. Ferly Reign is a consistent 5.30 dog at Wentworth Park and there is no way they could’ve run that slow to the first mark in the heat. I said to the steward straight after the race there was an issue with the time. I was in the wash bay and after the race the steward was waiting to do the swabs, and I said you better have a look at that, there’s no way they’ve gone that time. There was no reaction, like water off a ducks back and I didn’t want to create waves, so didn’t say anything further that night.”
“I spoke with some professional punters and Joe Borg who had the winner, and we all agreed the time was wrong. The pro punters put their time on the race and all five of them said my dog ran 25.18-25.19.”
Anthony then decided the best course of action was to phone the GRV to speak with chief steward Glenn Fish to take his concerns further.
“I rang Glenn Fish on Friday morning and he was unavailable, but he did ring back in the afternoon. I said that I didn’t want to make waves, but there is an issue with the time on the race and my dog should be the fastest second and in the final. He said, he was bound by the Finish Lynx time and would not even consider reviewing the race further. As far as he was concerned whatever time the Finish Lynx gave is the time the race would be recorded as.”
“It’s ridiculous, if the time was a length or two here or there, you know, you could live with that. But this is five length difference on the winners time, and my dog is easily the fastest second and into the final.”
“What really annoyed me was that Glenn Fish didn’t give me the impression he thought it was a big issue. What about the punters? How much would the betting have changed if the public were aware Deadly Vane was the fastest qualifier?”
“Never mind their duty of care to owners and trainers in this case, but what about their betting partners? They knew the times were wrong and did nothing to alert the public or the TAB who were betting on the race.”
“Now I’m not saying we could’ve won, but my dog has enough early pace to have changed the way the final was run. Probably we don’t win…..we’d have been running for third, but with Ferly Reign’s early pace and the way he doesn’t leave the rail; if we’d have drawn inside, the race would’ve been different, that’s all I’m saying.”
Australian Racing Greyhound contacted the Racing Integrity Office and spoke to Sal Perna, who informed us that this situation, “didn’t qualify as an integrity issue and fall within his jurisdiction.” For all the advances that have been made in Victoria with the Integrity Commissioner, it is simply an amazing situation that something that directly affected betting markets and should have been made public knowledge, but was kept quiet; doesn’t qualify as an integrity issue and fall within the scope of the Racing Integrity Commissioner. The public have been misled by a government department, and remarkably that does not qualify as an integrity issue.
Mr Perna went further in his explanation, “If it is related to raceday operation, our office has no jurisdiction. We deal with issues relating to crime and corruption. Even if we received a complaint, there is nothing we can do. We are independent, and it’s a very specific role.”
We next contacted the Integrity Manager at the Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV), Brian Williams, and CEO Adam Wallish, who had nothing to add but were both aware of the issue.
The video below says it all.