Banned horse trainer claims ‘jigger’ text all in jest
BANNED Queensland horse trainer Ben Currie claims he was just talking in jest and banter when he texted racehorse owners, referring to an electronic device known as a jigger.
Currie is seeking a review of convictions and disqualification for engaging in an improper action, by sending texts about an intention to have horses subjected to electronic apparatus.
In a 2015 text to two "mates'', then owners of racehorse Massive Attack,
Currie sent a text saying "give him the jigger'', a tribunal heard.
"It's just talking in jest and banter and just s..t talk that people do,'' Currie earlier told a Queensland Racing Integrity Commission stewards' inquiry about the "jigger'' text.
Currie's barrister, Jim Murdoch QC, yesterday told Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Currie knew "jigger'' meant an electronic device, but he had only used the word in jest.
Mr Murdoch said Currie had previously given evidence that he had never had or used a jigger or asked anyone to use one.
He said none of the jockeys, trainers or racetrack riders questioned by stewards knew of Currie using one.
In another text to one of the owners of racehorse Said Written in 2016, Currie said: "I reckon blinkers off and harp the c... up''.
The QRIC claims the text provided evidence of a proposition by Currie to use an electronic device, but Mr Murdoch said it was a "routine, benign comment'', after a disappointing race.
He said Currie did not agree "harp'' referred to a jigger and he believed "harping'' a horse referred to giving it a rousing hit out, to tune it up by a hard gallop or use of a whip.
Scott Murdoch QC, for QRIC, said that was "absurd'', as "overwhelming'' evidence from jockeys and racetrack workers at the stewards' inquiry was that "harp'' referred to a jigger.
Mr Murdoch said Currie was convicted on "bad'' charges, as there was no infringement of a racing rule by mere formation of an intention.
He said some riders who were intensely questioned at the stewards inquiry also had data extracted from their phones, without it producing anything to support charges against Currie.
Currie was initially disqualified for four years after being found guilty by stewards of two charges, but that was reduced to 30 months after a QRIC internal review.
Mr Murdoch said if the convictions stood the seven months disqualification he had already served should be sufficient penalty, but Mr McLeod said the 30 months' disqualification should stand.
Mr McLeod said the improper action by Currie was the sending of texts with a particular intention - to have horses subjected to an electronic apparatus capable of affecting their performance.
In the case of Massive Attack, there was a clear and proper inference of an agreement to do something and in Said Written's case there was a proposal to do something.
Currie, who has been on the sidelines since May 2, after Racing Queensland enacted a rule to refuse his nominations, is also facing criminal charges of aggravated fraud.
In total, QRIC has disqualified him from training for a total of six years and three months, over charges that include using prohibited substances, race day treatments and the text messages for which he appeared in QCAT yesterday.
QCAT Member Ann Fitzpatrick reserved her decision.