On the surface, Australia’s racing industry has never been better. With a prize pool that’s grown to more than $600 million it’s one of the biggest industries in the country, employing more than 50,000 people. But away from the glamour all is not well in the sport of kings.
“People are leaving this sport in droves.” Horse Trainer
Die-hard racing identities are worried.
"We all love our horses. But we seem to get knocked from pillar to post, one scandal after another.” Thoroughbred Owner
On Monday Four Corners examines the secrets and scandals in Australia’s horse racing industry.
“A scandal like this certainly does rank right up there. This is a big one.” Racing commentator
In 2017 an astonishingly audacious doping conspiracy was uncovered. Five trainers and three stable hands were found guilty of taking part in Victoria’s Aquanita doping scandal, but questions remain.
“How anyone could look at this situation and say, well that's it, all done, we've got the guilty people, and move on, just has you shaking your head.” Racing Industry analyst
In the wake of the scandal, described as one of the darkest and longest chapters in the history of the sport, high profile racing figures are questioning how the sport is being policed.
“How did this happen for so long, what processes were in place that failed the racing industry, failed punters, failed the horses?” Racing form analyst
The damage done by the Aquanita doping conspiracy isn’t the only problem facing the industry. The loss of high profile sponsors, the difficulty in attracting racegoers and concerns about animal cruelty have the racing fraternity on edge.
“Once punters lose confidence in the sport the whole system breaks down because without punters racing doesn’t exist, without owners who put on the show racing doesn’t exist.” Racing Commentator.
Off Track, reported by Michael Brissenden, goes to air on Monday 9th July at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 10th July at 1.00pm and Wednesday 11th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.