In a smack in the face to the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club, their major sponsor Schweppes, and all Victorian greyhound particpants who conduct themselves with pride and dignity; GRV Stewards have concluded an inquiry in to Jason Thompson’s brattish 2008 Melbourne Cup behaviour with a paltry $1000 fine.
Not much of a penalty for a trainer whose greyhounds earned $75,000 from the race in question, and not much relief to Sandown Greyhound Racing Club or its major sponsor Schweppes, whose most prestigious night of greyhound racing on the calendar was firstly marred by Surgeon’s failure to chase and then plunged in to absolute farce by the actions and conduct of Jason Thompson and Seona Hood.
On Victorian greyhounds racing’s biggest night, Thompson and his defacto partner Seona Hood were the centre of allegations of physical assault, verbal assualt, spitting and generally poor conduct. Their behaviour was witnessed by many first timers who were trackside for the big event and many of the industry’s highest acheivers and most respected participants.
Thompson was even alleged to have confronted GRV CEO John Stephens, and yet on the face of it, Stephen’s was not called as witness, nor did he lodge a formal complaint against Thompson’s confrontation that has resulted in an inquiry.
Thompson’s confrontation with Stephen’s was allegedly the second time he had focussed a verbal tirade toward Stephen’s and yet on both occassion Stephen’s has not made a formal complaint or instigated an inquiry against Thompson. On both occasion’s the outburt’s occurred in front of many witnesses.
GRV Stewards on the 29th December 2008 conducted an inquiry into alleged incidents between licensed Trainers, Jason Thompson and Darren McDonald, and JasonThompson’s alleged behaviour in general, following the running of the Group 1 2008 Melbourne Cup at the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club meeting on the 27th November 2008.
GRV Stewards report cites that they called evidence to the inquiry from Jason Thompson (Trainer), Darren McDonald (Trainer), Mr. C. Scott, Ms. Lee Fahry, Ms. Hugh Montgomery (GRV Stewards), a GRV employee and a Sandown GRC employee.
Was the GRV employee cited in the report, GRV CEO John Stephens?
Why was Seona Hood not called to give evidence or face inquiry?
GRV Stewards noted that after hearing the evidence, they charged Jason Thompson with breach of GAR86(q) in that following the running of Event 8 at the Sandown GRC on 27 November 2008, he did engage in conduct which was detrimental to the interest, image, control and promotion of greyhound racing.
According to the GRV Stewards report, Jason Thompson sensibly pleaded guilty to the charge given the overwhelming evidence and many eye-witnesses.
Dissapointingly though, and given the inquiry was to also hear evidence of an alleged physical assault amongst the alleged verbal assault and tirade from Thompson, the GRV Stewards found Jason Thompson guilty as charged, but then only fined him the insignificant sum total of $1,000.
How much of a penalty is $1000 to a licensed person who earnt $75,000 from his greyhounds, just from the race in question ?
What sort of deterrent is a penalty of a $1000 to a trainer who regualrly earns over $300,000 in prizemoney per annum from his greyhounds?
What sort of signal does this send to anyone else who can afford a poultry $1,000 fine about how they need to conduct themsleves or who they can abuse or assault?
Many of Jason Thompson’s biggest critics, say that he acts and behaves as if he his bigger than the greyhound industry itself, as if the powers that be cannot touch him, as if he can do as he wishes without fear of significant reprisal.
The outcome of this inquiry goes a long way to prove that maybe Thompson’s critics are right.
The powers that be find themselves unable or incapable of imposing upon him any kind of significant penalty that would act as deterrent to future misconduct. Any fine imposed upon an ordinary or battling greyhound trainer such as $1,000 that might be significant, it might cause some pain; but to a trainer who earns over $300,00 a year it has no meaning whatsoever.
GRV Stewards have found themselves applying what they consider to be a uniform standard penalty in a situation where anything but a uniform standard penalty should have applied.
It was Victorian greyhound racing’s biggest night, it was Sandown Greyhound Racing Clubs biggest event, Schweppes biggest greyhound sponsorship and involved the sports biggest trainers and greyhounnds.
Thompson’s poor conduct which has caused the sport untold damage, called for the sport’s biggest penalty; a $10,000 fine or a period of suspension or disqualification.
What Thompson ended up receiving was approximately the equivalent of one days income, and partner Seona Hood has escaped unchallenged.
The GRV Stewards report stated that Jason Thompson expressed his extreme remorse and regret to the greyhound industry for his behaviour on the night in question.
Maybe he understands the gravity of the damage he has caused the industry, maybe he comprehends what sort of signal his behaviour sends to others; but just maybe he understands just how lucky he is that at least financially; there is no penalty that the GRV can impose upon him that would cause him to re-think his actions at any point.
It remains to be seen if they will take a hard line against him with regard to the El Galo Topgun positive swab, should he be found guilty.