Horse trainer Ben Currie cops four-year ban
QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity stewards have disqualified Toowoomba horse trainer Ben Currie for a period of four years in the first penalty handed to the trainer since inquiries into his stable's actions began 13 months ago.
Currie was this morning sentenced to a two year disqualification on each of two charges, with the penalties to be served cumulatively.
Four years is the same disqualification given to Australia's leading trainer Darren Weir over the discovery of jiggers on his property earlier this year.
Last week stewards found Currie guilty of two charges under AR175(a) in that he engaged in an improper action relating to "the intention to use an electronic apparatus capable of affecting the performance of two horses."
The charges emanated from a protracted investigation into text messages sent by Currie relating to the horses Massive Attack in 2015 and Said Written in 2016.
These were the third set of charges issued against Currie since the investigation began in April last year, but are the first to be finalised by stewards.
There still remains the matters of 28 charges issued in mid last year and seven charges issued in February still to be determined by stewards, in addition to five swab irregularities.
Currie has successfully sought two Stays of Proceedings through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to allow him to continue training. He has trained 136 winners in Queensland this season - more than any other trainer - for earnings topping $3.4million.
Last week, Racing Queensland - a separate entity to QRIC - invoked Australian Rule of Racing 55 on Currie, whereby they have refused to accept his nominations to race.
Currie has not had a runner since May 2 and this week the vast majority of his horses were transferred to other stables.
Tomorrow's Doomben meeting includes 10 acceptors that were formerly trained by Currie, but now with new stables.
It is likely a Supreme Court Judicial Review will be heard next week, where Currie is challenging Racing Queensland's jurisdiction to invoke the rule, which states a Principal Racing Authority has the right to decline nominations of a trainer without giving reasons for doing so.
The two charges Currie was found guilty of yesterday are separate to the ones he was stood down over in March relating to the use of the term "harped up", where he subsequently was granted a stay by QCAT.
Currie has steadfastly defended himself from the outset of this investigation, declaring he is innocent of the accusations levelled against him.
Stewards have directed Currie to feed, water and care for his horses, exercising them by hand walking or on walking machine.
He has until 4pm next Friday to have all of the horses in his care dispersed to approved trainers at the discretion of the stewards.