Emmalene wins the Gucci Stakes down the straight at Flemington
The Aquanita scandal is all over the news today and most will already be aware that leading BrisVegas trainer Leapin’ Liam Birchley has been dropped right in the middle of it by the Victorian stewards after being charged with one count of breaching AR 175 of the Australian Rules of Racing.
The charge relates to three alleged incidents at Flemiongton during the Melbourne Spring Carnivals of 2011, 2012 and 2015, and the alleged acts in question are that Birchley was a party to the administration of alkalinising agents and/or medication to a horse or horses on race day.
The horses in question are:
3 November 2011 – Emmalene – Race 4 – Gucci Stakes – 1200m
6 November 2012 – Whatever Whenever – Race 5 – Mares Handicap 1400m
3 November 2015 – Pop and Scotch – JB Cummings Tribute Plate – 2800m
Emmalene was the only winner of three, with the other 2 starters at the greatest carnival in Australian racing finishing out of a place.
Pop N’ Scotch, part owned by former champion footballer turned yet another failed NSW Origin coach Loz the Schnozz Daley
Our mail directly from the horse’s mouth is that despite the charges being splashed all over the front and back pages of the national papers and being run as lead stories on radio and TV stations across the land thanks to press releases issued by Racing Victoria, no-one has been considerate enough to provide Birchley with any paperwork detailing the charge or the particulars of the alleged incidents that form it.
In fact the first the Brisbane trainer knew about which horses the charge relates to was when I rang him up and told him about half an hour ago, which is pretty poor form on the Racing Victoria Integrity Unit’s behalf if you ask me. They did email Birchley a copy of their brief of allegations earlier today but due to an IT stuff up at the southerners end the bloke who is being accused around the country of being a cheat has been unable to open them, and so while he’s being besieged for comment by media from every state he is forced to wait for tomorrow’s snail mail to find out exactly what it is that he is supposed to have done.
It’s a pretty ordinary state of affairs, particularly when you consider that Liam Birchley has been training or working with trainers all over the eastern seaboard of Australia and overseas for the past 30 years and had never – NEVER – been outed for a positive swab or copped a suspension for any form of offence.
Birchley deserves a whole lot better than the caning he’s been giving for an alleged offence that the Victorian stewards have charged him for when there is not even a single positive sample to back it up, only the word of one or more people in Victoria who appear to have been caught out in mischief and will say or do anything they can to save their own skins, and perhaps a few text messages of doubtful provenance and ambiguous content.
Up here in Queensland if we have a problem with a bloke we tell him straight and school him up on the full details of the potentially career-ending claims we are intending to make about him before we sh*t all over the rules of natural justice and due process and start putting out self-aggrandising press releases designed to make ourselves look like the biggest hero on the block.
Clearly though they do things differently down south, and they can keep their ways and put ’em in their pipe and smoke ’em for mine. A bloke’s innocent until either he’s proven guilty or the people who’ve chucked the charges at him are shown up as shaman.
I don’t presume to know which one will happen, and I don’t pretend to know the truth of the matters or otherwise. What I do know though is that Queenslanders stand beside their mates when the chips are down and in their hour of need.
Liam Birchley the maroon army is standing beside you.
As the Kiwis say, Kia Kaha.
Stand tall. Stay strong.