The heartland of Australian racing is braced for a challenging catharsis after the announcement yesterday of an inquiry into rumours of race-fixing variously implicating jockeys, bookmakers, punters and gangland bosses.
Racing Victoria is aware that police are already investigating one race and is now acting to address allegations of a broader problem – extending, in their most extreme form, to an organised crime network. The most lurid of these reached police investigating the murder of Les Samba, a former trainer shot dead in Melbourne last year.
The racing authorities are frustrated by limits to their investigative powers, notably with regard to unlicensed individuals. But they must now deal with such damaging editorials as one that appeared in The Australian, claiming: "Victorian racing's reputation for integrity is not leaking credibility but gushing it." Racing Victoria's commissioner, Sal Perna, has stated: " I do not believe there are widespread integrity issues within the racing industry in Victoria... however, I have a duty to address these allegations."
While British racing has endured its own ordeals of purgation in recent years, it looks forward to showcasing its greatest asset at York on Wednesday when Frankel steps up in trip for the Juddmonte International Stakes. Nine others had the temerity to stand their ground at the six-day stage, including Nathaniel. Connections have indicated that Nathaniel is more likely to wait for the Irish Champion Stakes, but have now reserved the option to go to York.
Aidan O'Brien will doubtless try to ensure a rigorous test of the favourite's stamina, with two potential pacemakers available to set up a strong finish from St Nicholas Abbey. The Ballydoyle trainer arguably has a still more momentous task looming with Camelot, hot favourite for his historic Triple Crown bid in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster next month.
O'Brien professed himself delighted with the unbeaten colt after he galloped around half a dozen lengths clear of stable companion Fame And Glory in a workout at Leopardstown yesterday.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Switzerland (8.25 Kempton) Looked an exciting prospect in the spring but shared his stable's loss of form until duly bouncing back at Goodwood last time.
Operation Tracer (2.30 Newcastle) Much improved at Brighton last week, just nailed late.
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