Outgoing Victorian chief steward Terry Bailey believes racing is cleaner than years gone by but says penalties for treating horses on race day still need to be tougher.
Bailey announced last month he had resigned to take up the role of chief steward in Singapore from August after 13 years with Racing Victoria,10 as chief steward.
Speaking to radio station RSN927 on Tuesday, the morning after an ABC Four Corners story aired in relation to racing in Australia and the recent Aquanita race day treatment case, Bailey said the sport was cleaner now than 10 years ago, five years ago, and even a year ago.
“Yes we are getting better at stamping illegal practices out, and new rules are being brought in place,” Bailey said.
“When I first took over a suspected race day treatment fine was about $200. Now it’s a six-month disqualification. We’ve come a fair way.”
But he believes penalties for those found guilty of illegally treating horses on race day still need to be tougher.
“Yes, because it’s too hard to police,” he said.
“It’s very easy and quick to treat a horse on race day. And the environment we have in Victoria and Australia, it’s very difficult to police.
“So when people are caught blatantly treating horses on race day the penalties should be a deterrent.”
Flemington trainer Mat Ellerton told Four Corners he had relayed information to stewards regarding “strange activities” by Aquanita employees but Bailey said he had no recollection of that.
“If he did, I don’t recall the conversation personally unless he spoke to one of the other team,” Bailey said.
“Mr Ellerton is a great trainer and I have great respect for him and he plays with a straight bat. As far as the rumours, we’d all heard the rumours. It was a matter of having the evidence and we eventually got that.
“I must admit it was brazen what they were doing at the track but we certainly weren’t sitting on our hands.”
Trainer Robert Smerdon and two of his employees Greg and Denise Nelligan have been disqualified for life over the scandal.
Smerdon has appealed the ban.
Bailey said he felt the time was right to move on to a new challenge in Singapore.
“When the opportunity was afforded me, I thought I may not get it again,” he said.
Asked if he had any regrets, Bailey said he had always tried to act in the best interests of the sport.
“I can’t think of anything at the moment but no doubt there’s plenty of times I probably could have handled things a little differently, but every decision I made was done, in my view, the best interests of the sport,” he said.
A replacement for Bailey is yet to be appointed.