Ben Currie (right) celebrates Amanaat's Weetwood win. Pic: Trackside Photography
Ben Currie (right) celebrates Amanaat's Weetwood win. Pic: Trackside Photography

Defiant Currie hit with 31 charges

STEWARDS have hit Queensland's leading horse trainer Ben Currie with 31 charges across a wide spectrum of the rule book, with the possibility there may still be more to come.

After a marathon hearing at QRIC headquarters in Brisbane, stewards charged Currie and ordered that any nominations or acceptances of horses from his stable be rejected.

The horses, however, may continue to be exercised.

Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett indicated the tally of charges could still rise.

"This is not the end of the investigation by any means," he said.

"There is still a lot of data to be examined and I would not rule out the possibility of further charges."

 

Currie has pleaded not guilty to all 31 charges and through the Ben Currie Racing Twitter account made a statement vowing to beat the charges.

"Really disappointed in today's verdict," he wrote. "Feeling very let down by the current system and people in charge.

"I have pleaded not guilty to all charges and I will be appealing. In the meantime, a stay application has been put in and my lawyers expect it to be granted (today)."

The charges relate to raceday treatment and therapy, providing false evidence and obstruction of the stewards' investigation.

Currie entered the inquiry just after 11am and the hearing did not conclude until after 5pm.

Currie after With A Promise's win at Doomben. Picture: Trackside Photography
Currie after With A Promise's win at Doomben. Picture: Trackside Photography

At the outset of the hearing, Currie sought an adjournment and made the case for his legal representatives Michael O'Connor and Jim Murdoch to sit in with him.

Both requests were denied, in line with precedents of previous inquiries during this investigation and since QRIC was initiated in 2016.

Stewards dealt with 12 charges relating to raceday treatment on April 7 and March 24, before revealing a host of other offences they allege the trainer has committed.

One of the more explosive charges levelled at Currie related to a text message sent to a staff member in May 2016, where stewards alleged the trainer admitted to cheating.

Mark Currie.
Mark Currie.

In another charge, stewards alleged Currie provided them with a mobile phone that had been factory reset, "thereby frustrating their attempts to search his mobile phone records for evidence directly relating to this inquiry".

Stewards also allege Currie advised his stablehand Silde Canda, who has been suspended for three months, to delete messages on his mobile phone "in an attempt to obstruct stewards".

The Currie inquiry has been the talking point of the racing industry since the raid on his Hursley Road Stables on Weetwood day, April 7.

Four members of his staff have either been suspended or disqualified in the fallout, including his father Mark who was banned for two years after being found guilty of 12 charges relating to raceday treatment of horses.

Currie has maintained from the outset of the inquiry he has done nothing wrong.

On Weetwood day he won the day's feature race with Amanaat (which is not among the horses alleged to have been given a raceday treatment) and Toowoomba Guineas with Hang, which did feature in the list of charges.

The stable's success has continued since Weetwood day, with Currie chalking up two more stakes winners in Brisbane.

Currie has trained 132 winners this season, with his horses earning $2.77 million from 604 runners.

He won the Queensland training premiership for the first time last season, preparing 103.5 winners.