Currie has ‘jigger’ ban overturned on appeal
Trainer Ben Currie has won his appeal against a two-and-a-half year disqualification after the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal quashed a guilty finding of him intending to use an electrical device on two of his horses.
The two charges related to text messages sent by Currie, which stewards alleged showed intent to use an electric apparatus, or 'jigger', capable of affecting performance, on the horses Massive Attack in 2015 and Said Written in 2016.
Stewards disqualified him for a total of four years on both charges, before the penalty was reduced to 30 months at Internal Review.
QCAT Member Ann Fitzpatrick considered text messages sent by Currie pertaining to both horses before finding in favour of the Toowoomba trainer.
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In relation to Massive Attack, texts sent by Currie on November 25, 2015 included "blinkers on next time and give him a hit with the jigger. Win then sell."
Member Fitzpatrick said she was asked to draw an inference that the texts indicated an actual intention to use a jigger on Massive Attack and ruled the text messages themselves are not "sufficient evidence of an intention by Mr Currie to have Massive Attack subjected to an electronic apparatus capable of affecting its performance."
In relation to the charge pertaining to Said Written, Member Fitzpatrick considered text messages that used the word "harp."
Evidence was provided by a number of witnesses, including long serving New South Wales and Queensland Chief Steward Ray Murrihy that the term "harp" is widely understood to have the meaning of "jigger" in the racing industry.
THE STORY SO FAR:
The Member said she accepted this submission, but also considered Currie's evidence that he meant strong gallop when the word harp was used.
"There is no evidence that Mr Currie instructed any rider to apply a "harp", "jigger" or electronic device to Said Written, nor that any jigger has been found at Mr Currie's stables," she said.
Further, she accepted Currie's submission that a reference to "electricity" in one of the text messages was in relation to lawful use of a shockwave therapy machine.
"In the end, I am not satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to justify a finding that Mr Currie's evidence should not be accepted," the Member said.
"I do not think the text messages on their own, even acknowledging the commonly known meaning of harp, are a sufficient reason not to accept Mr Currie's explanation of how he used the word.
"I think it is important that there is no evidence of use of a jigger on Said Written or any other horse, no instructions to riders to use a jigger and no jigger found which would cast doubt on Mr Currie's explanation.
"For those reasons I accept Mr Currie's evidence as to the meaning he intended by use of the word "harp" in the text messages.
This decision means Currie now has no current disqualifications, as periods of 12 months and six months for matters pertaining to positive swabs and race day treatments have been served.
QRIC has appealed a finding in the prohibitive substance case, which in turn Currie himself has appealed.
When Currie will return to training now hinges on a pending criminal matter.
In addition, the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission is yet to determine the outcome of 14 other alleged breaches of the rules of racing, which were issued on May 28, 2018.
There is also an adjourned inquiry pertaining to seven other alleged rule breaches, which will not be heard until after the outcome of the alleged criminal matter has been determined.
Originally published as Currie has 'jigger' ban overturned on appeal