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By Graham Potter | Friday, February 1, 2019

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

The details are not totally clear. The investigation is on-going.

At the time of writing no charges have been laid, no allegations substantiated and no guilt proven but the latest shock arrest and questioning of top racehorse trainer Darren Weir and two others with regard to matters originally stated as being relating to … ‘sporting integrity matters, including obtaining financial advantage by deception, engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or event contingency, use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes, and attempting to commit an indictable offence namely obtain financial advantage by deception’ … has already fuelled the fire on the hot topic of racing integrity.

All three men have now been released pending further investigation.

If Weir is charged the blaze that this story has started could well become an inferno but, where-ever the lines are finally drawn, national mainstream press coverage of the Weir stable raid and subsequent actions of both the Victoria Police's Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit and Racing Victoria’s Integrity Unit will, yet again, flush racing’s immediate profile down the toilet, irrespective of the investigation findings.

Those outside of racing … even in the absence of a factual verdict … will say I told you so as they shake their heads and spread the word about corruption in the racing game. And before we point fingers at them, many of those working within the industry are as quick to take a belligerent stance. Trainer comment against trainer is not unheard of. It is not even unusual. And we won’t even talk about social media.

The bottom line is that, where-ever the malevolence is coming from, the profile of the racing industry suffers in such cases with plenty of people happy to jump on the sledging bandwagon.

It must be remembered that there is a presumption of innocence for any individual in any case until an official verdict states otherwise.

In the broader picture though, tackling possible corruption with its negative connotations is very much a double-edged sword for the racing industry as it will find out to an extreme in the coming days in the media and through public speculation because of Weir’s high profile and therefore newsworthy status.

While racing’s reputation does suffer at times like these, in one sense it is almost immune now to flaring scandals … such is the regularity of the tales of the dark side of racing, proven or unproven.

The sun will still come up tomorrow. The industry will move along but, for now, again irrespective of the Weir investigation outcome, racing has taken another unwanted hit, another body-blow that an often bruised industry could have done without!

STORY UPDATE: Racing Victoria stewards have now charged Darren Weir with six offences and have issued him with a show cause notice to explain why he should not be suspended. Two other men have also been charged. It is a big story which … as suggested … is only going to get bigger and bigger.

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