Qld’s top trainer faces ‘serious animal cruelty’ charges
ACCUSED trainer Ben Currie has been hit with another seven charges, this time relating to allegations of "serious animal cruelty" and asked to show cause as to why he shouldn't be immediately stood down from training.
Among the seven charges issued on Friday, the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has alleged Currie has used "jiggers", the same device that brought about the downfall of Australia's biggest trainer Darren Weir this month.
There are also charges relating to the use of shockwave therapy, failing to report a horse having a bleed (from the nostrils) and a raceday treatment offence.
Currie has been ordered to front an inquiry on Monday to show cause why he should not be stood down under AR8(z), which says if stewards are the opinion that "the continued participation of that person in racing might pose an unacceptable risk to, prejudice or undermine the image, interests or integrity of racing, may: (a) suspend any licence, registration, right, or privilege granted under these Rules to that person."
"Because of the serious animal welfare issues around these charges, we need to take immediate action to ensure the integrity of racing," Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said.
Consideration was given to scratching Currie trained horses at Doomben and Toowoomba on Saturday, but it was deemed to allow them to run, so as to not penalise owners and jockeys, given the timing of when the charges were laid.
Barnett said the latest charges emanated from the protracted investigation into Currie Racing, which was launched on Weetwood Day, April 7 last year.
"In total, it covers a three year period," Barnett said of the stewards' investigation.
"This is not the end of the investigation and further charges may be proffered."
Already facing 28 charges and additionally another four positive swabs, Currie has been training on a stay of proceedings granted at QCAT after being stood down by QRIC in June last year.
Neither of those inquiries has been concluded by stewards, as Currie, who has vowed to fight all previous charges, sought a Supreme Court Judicial Review, which will not be heard until next month.
His father Mark, who works in his son's stable, was disqualified for two years on several raceday treatment offences from the April 7 investigation, but also secured a stay of proceedings. His appeal at QCAT has been scheduled for May.
Ben Currie has been Queensland's leading trainer by winners for the past two seasons and in 2018-19 is a runaway leader again, having already trained 101 winners, 64 of them on his home track at Toowoomba, where is striking at a winner almost every three runners.
Currie has five runners at Doomben, including Mishani Electra, who is favourite for Race 8, and another eight runners engaged at Toowoomba tomorrow night.