The Financial Express

Trainer charged over 'serious welfare breaches' in Australia

Published: February 15, 2019 17:00:10 | Updated: February 19, 2019 13:08:11

Horse racing in Australia. Photo: Collected Horse racing in Australia. Photo: Collected

Australian trainer Ben Currie has been charged with several "serious welfare breaches" including giving electric shocks to horses.

It follows compatriot Darren Weir being banned for four years for possessing Taser-type devices, known as "jiggers".

Currie is accused of using a jigger on two occasions and unauthorised "shockwave" treatments.

He is also charged with failing to report bleeding horses to stewards and race-day treatment breaches.

Currie, who trains at Toowoomba, 80 miles west of Brisbane, is one of Queensland's leading trainers.

Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said an investigation into him began on 7 April last year.

Jiggers can cause horses to run faster in conjunction with a jockey using their whip.

"The very serious nature of the animal welfare allegations that have surfaced as a result of this investigation have left us with no choice but to act now in the interests of the Queensland racing industry," Barnett said.

Currie has been called to a stewards' inquiry on Monday where he will be asked to give reasons why he should not be suspended, as per a BBC report.

Barnett said the latest allegations were in addition to the 28 alleged rule breaches which stewards issued to Currie in July last year and four alleged illegal substance breaches issued in November and December.

Currie has continued to train horses in Queensland. Inquiries into the earlier matters are delayed until the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing on 22 February.

The charges against Currie

Currie has yet to comment on the seven new charges he faces in the investigation. He is charged with:

  • Instructing the use of an electric or electronic apparatus (jigger) to deliver an electric shock in an act of cruelty on 'Cordon Rouge' before racing at Gatton on 30 July 2016.
  • Using a jigger on a horse that has been designed to deliver an electric shock between 1 March 2016 and 7 March 2016.
  • Allowing Dog Days Are Over to race at the Sunshine Coast on 16 April 2017 when it had been subjected to shockwave therapy during the seven clear day period before race day.
  • Failing to notify stewards when Deep Down bled on 31 May 2016 and was then raced by another trainer until June 2017.
  • Failing to notify Stewards when Rock Spark bled on 6 April 2017 - the horse, which was sold shortly after the incident, continued to race under another trainer.
  • Making dishonest statements in not disclosing to potential buyers that Rock Spark bled at Gatton on 6 April 2017.
  • Causing the administration of boost paste to Honey Toast on the day it raced in the Sunshine Coast Cup on 31 January 2016.

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