Liam Birchley cannot start horses in NSW

Liam Birchley
Liam Birchley

Brisbane trainer Liam Birchley will not be allowed to start Group Two winner Crack Me Up or any other horse in NSW after stewards rejected his lawyer’s submissions in response to a show cause notice.

Birchley is one of eight people charged in the bi-carb scandal which has rocked Victorian racing with the alleged offences dating back to 2010.

Racing NSW stewards issued the show cause notice on Monday after studying the brief of evidence from their Victorian counterparts.

On Tuesday, they received written submissions from Birchley’s solicitor Travis Schultz and said they were not “comfortably satisfied that they should not invoke the provisions of AR50 to decline to receive or reject nominations in NSW of horses trained by Mr Birchley” pending the determination of the charge against him.

“In this respect, Racing NSW Stewards are of the opinion that permitting horses trained by Mr Birchley to be nominated and race in NSW prior to the charge being determined by the Victorian authorities would pose an unacceptable risk to, prejudice or undermine the image, interests and integrity of racing in NSW,” a Racing NSW stewards statement said.

Birchley, through Shultz, has requested the opportunity to present his submissions in person and arrangements are currently being made for that to happen but in the interim he cannot nominate horses.

William Hill

Schultz in turn issued a statement saying Birchley was entitled to a presumption of innocence and had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

“My client accepts that it is the responsibility of Racing New South Wales to protect the image, interests and integrity of racing however as we are vigorously defending the charges, it is unfair to take an approach that will cause irreparable damage to his training business in the interim,” he said.

“There is little or no risk to the image and integrity of racing through permitting my client to continue to nominate horses in New South Wales.”

Schultz said Birchley was making arrangements to transfer Crack Me Up to a Sydney trainer while any appeal against the Racing NSW decision was being undertaken.

Crack Me Up gained automatic entry to the Doncaster Mile with his win in the Villiers Stakes in December and is entered for Saturday’s Liverpool City Cup at Randwick.

Birchley is facing a charge that he engaged in a practice that was dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent in that he was a party to the administration of alkalinising agents and/or medications to a horse or horses on race day” on three occasions in Melbourne .

A directions hearing in the case against the eight people charged including multiple Group One-winning trainers Robert Smerdon, Stuart Webb and Tony Vasil will be held in Melbourne on Thursday.