The crisis over integrity matters in Queensland racing has deepened with the president and vice president of the state’s trainers’ association standing down.
The resignations come on the eve of the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival launch at a function in Brisbane on Tuesday morning.
In a media release on Monday, the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainer Association announced president Chris Munce and vice president Jim Murdoch would stand down but remain on the committee.
Integrity matters in Queensland have been highlighted in the past week with major investor, the Aquis organisation, saying it will not race horses in the state and the head of powerful Lindsay Park operation, David Hayes, announcing the stable will not take horses north in the winter.
In a press release QATA secretary Cameron Partington said trainers would meet with Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe later this week.
“(However) with the recent developments and the potential that there is a likelihood of this issue continuing for some time, ATA (Qld) Vice President Jim Murdoch has asked to stand down from his position due to some members concerns,” the statement said.
“Also, Chris Munce has resigned from his position as president, because of concerns from many of his owners that the issue is not being satisfactorily addressed by the industry regulators as a whole.”
Partington said Murdoch, who is the barrister for controversial Toowoomba trainer Ben Currie, and Munce would remain on the committee, with Pat Duff to assume the role of caretaker president until the next elections later in the year.
“The ongoing concerns the industry has with our racing disciplinary system and the role therein of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, there are lots of questions about what the ATA is doing,” the release said.
“We continue to assist trainers where we can in preparation of internal reviews and give advice etc.
“We have had good success recently where we feel the charges are unjust, and we will continue to tackle issues like this. Examples of these were the use of a Twitch on race-day, horses scratched at barriers and horses being presented for the wrong race due to incorrect RISA information etc.”
The release said with the more serious matters involving charges of prohibited substances or devices etc, the ATA would only ever be able to assist with advice on the steps to take in the process, referral to third party legal support and to monitor the situation to ensure a trainer is treated fairly and within the rules.
“It will never be the ATA’s role to judge or discriminate against a member who is facing charges. We will fight the process and the system where necessary but not take up against an individual, that is the role of the industry appointed judicial system,” it said.
“We have been discussing relentlessly with Racing Queensland and QRIC ways to improve the current system, and this has now come to head with a meeting the ATA has with the racing minister on Thursday.”