- Was uncovered as part of major investigation into racing industry
- Withdrew horses from meets this week, leaving one race with only one runner
- Is still allowed to train, but cannot enter racing venues
Prominent Australian harness racing trainer Ben Yole has been prohibited from participating in the sport, following a damning report that found him guilty of fixing multiple races.
Tasmania‘s top harness racing figure, Yole, has been barred from accessing the state’s racetracks, just two days after the release of an extensive independent report on race-fixing.
Tasracing took swift action by issuing notices to Yole and others implicated in the Murrihy Report, which contained adverse findings against several individuals in the racing industry.
The comprehensive investigation, led by former steward Ray Murrihy, delved into allegations of race-fixing, team driving, and animal abuse initially brought to light by the ABC in March, 2023.
Despite the government publicly releasing the report more than two months after its receipt, and despite the report’s explicit findings against Yole – specifically, his involvement in fixing at least two races in 2022 – the Office of Racing Integrity fell short of suspending him.
Yole retains the ability to continue training and entering horses in races.
Currently, Yole has 36 runners scheduled for the upcoming meet at Mowbray in Launceston, with an additional 49 slated to run at Elwick in Hobart on Sunday.
Some Yole-affiliated runners entered in a New South Wales meet have been scratched. In one race, the number of Yole scratchings meant there was just one runner left in the race.
Leading Tasmanian harness racing trainer Ben Yole has been banned from entering racing venues
Yole was found to have fixed the result of two races and a number of his horses have now been removed from race meets around Australia
Despite the findings, Yole has maintained an active training regimen, overseeing approximately 700 runners in races since November when the report was initially submitted to the government.
Following the report’s release, the government announced the formation of an independent panel of stewards to further investigate and potentially sanction Yole for suspicious races and instances of animal abuse identified by Mr. Murrihy.
Tasracing disclosed its exploration of legal options, separate from the Office of Racing Integrity, in response to the allegations against Yole Racing and others implicated in the report.
‘TasRacing is satisfied it has the grounds on which to make this decision under the Racing Regulation Act 2004, based on serious allegations and subsequent findings made by Mr Murrihy,’ Tasracing chief executive Andrew Jenkins said.
‘The named participants have a show cause period to provide evidence why the notice should be rescinded.’
According to the Australian Rules of Harness Racing, an individual who has been ‘warned off’ is precluded from ‘participating in any manner in the harness racing industry.’
The Murrihy inquiry, which included over 50 interviews, more than 45 submissions, race footage reviews, examination of race betting data, individual betting records, and site visits, contributed to the comprehensive findings against Yole and others involved.
‘The investigation scrutinised allegations of team driving and race fixing in the two races mentioned in the ABC media report of 26 March 2023, as well as two additional races selected from more than 50 races from the past three years referred to in submissions,’ the report read.
‘From these four races, two were determined to involve conduct non-compliant with the AHRR, while the remaining two races lacked sufficient evidence to support a non-compliant determination.’
Racing Minister Felix Ellis said it was: ‘A dark day for Tasmania’s harness racing.’