On the 25th of September 2017 leading racehorse trainer Ciaron Maher appeared before the Victorian Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board and plead guilty to a charge of conduct prejudicial to the image or welfare of racing.
The charges related to Maher failing to notify authorities that 5 horses in his stable purporting to be owned by his friend and racing manager Ben Connolly were in fact owned by the notorious multiple convicted and jailed criminal and international con man Peter Foster, and that he willfully concealed the fact in his knowledge that Connolly was a mere straw man for Foster.
The RAD board found that Maher had damaged the image and integrity of racing by his actions, and that he had brought the Sport of Kings into disrepute.
It stated in its written decision that Maher’s conduct could be seen as enabling the perpetuation of a fraud.
The trainer’s licence was suspended for 6 months and he was fined $75 000.
All horses were removed from his stables withing a week of the decision and transferred to other trainers.
Fast forward a fortnight to Sunday the 8th of 8th of October 2017, the day of Nifty Nev’s early 70th birthday party.
That evening Racing Queensland host the Australian Race Horse of the Year Awards at Portside on the Brisbane River.
The Queensland Racing Minister Grace Grace and her friend and business associate the Racing Queensland Chairman Steve Wilson are in attendance.
So is Ciaron Maher, the trainer who just two weeks before has been suspended for six months by Racing Victoria’s integrity body for bringing the industry into damaging disrepute by virtue of his secret dealings with criminals.
Maher is a member of the party that accepts the trophy that his former horse Jameka has been awarded after being judged as the Australian Stayer of the Year.
The crowd that includes Wilson, Grace and BRC Chairman Nifty Nev Bell stand as one and applaud as Maher and the connections take the stage.
This is racing integrity, Queensland style.
A doped up and disqualified filly from Sydney wins the Queensland Horse of the Year.
A trainer who has escaped a jail sentence for sexual assault by the skin of his teeth, incredible luck, and a hung jury attends the exclusive invitation-only birthday party of the Chairman of the Brisbane Racing Club.
A suspended fraudster gets a standing ovation from the Minister and the most senior man in the Queensland racing industry as he strides the stage to accept the award for Australian Stayer of the Year.
If Peter Foster had been granted bail it’s London to a Brick on that he would have been the award ceremony’s MC.
And these people expect us to take them seriously?
They would have to be f*cking kidding.