Fri, Aug 29, 6:12am by Daryl Curnow
The Central Districts jockey will face charges of pulling up a horse so he could collect from a head-to-head bet he ‘allegedly’ placed on a rival horse. The senior rider was aboard Watch Your Man who sat near the rear of the field but video shows he never gave his mount a chance and when he found clear running room, he simply sat on the horse and didn’t move a muscle.
When stewards questioned Walker about the ride he claimed that he was denied any clear running room but that he also had cramp in his hands – something he told stewards before the inquiry was launched. Further investigations by the Racing Integrity Unit concluded that Walker did place a bet, to which he has now admitted to, but in New Zealand it is legal to place a bet on a horse you are riding, however, placing a bet against a rival is not permitted and Walker faces serious charges.
Reports state that the bet was in excess of $500 which seems rather pointless, but he isn’t the first jockey to illegally wager on a race. Remarkably, Walker was seen via CCTV footage to be collecting his winnings after the race. The rival horse, St Ransom, closed at $1.80 in the head-to-head market but the price was higher before the large bet was placed – leaving Walker to likely double his money.
Walker’s excuse of cramping in the hands is certainly one of the strangest we have come across, as cramping in the hands is a very rare trait for jockeys – he also showed no signs of loosening his grip throughout the race. The Racing Integrity Unit is now investigating other rides by Walker but he has been charged with this offence and he can’t ride till his court hearing is finished.
If he is found guilty under rule 801, which is the act of committing a dishonest act to do with racing or betting, he can be disqualified for any period, including life. Walker has been charged with rule 707 which prohibits jockeys betting on horses they are not riding.
RIU general manager Mike Godber said given the seriousness of the charges, his licence must be suspended immediately.
“The allegations before Mr Walker are serious and threaten the very fabric of thoroughbred racing.
“We therefore consider the continued participation of Mr Walker in racing prior to the JCA hearing would pose an unacceptable risk to the image, interests and integrity of racing,” he said.
People in the industry are now calling for change. There is not only the issue of David Walker, who should be made an example of in New Zealand if the laws don’t change, but also the rule that jockeys are allowed to bet on their own horses – coupled with the head-to-head betting options.
Such a betting option allows for this ‘spot fixing’ to be executed with ease and for jockeys who aren’t making steady money, this could become appealing to them. Why jockeys are allowed to place bets in races that involves them riding is beyond us, but rules are there to be changed and rewritten.
Walker isn’t, nor won’t be the last jockey to try and make an extra dollar on a race. Damien Oliver was a highly noted case when he bet $10,000 on a rival horse to win at Moonee Valley. He served his time and now most of the industry has moved on – but the lesser known David Walker might not be so lucky. The 38-year-old has struggled with weight and getting rides throughout his career, and now trainers have a reason to shun him. He also loses out his ride on Scapolo in the $200,000 Group One Makfi Stakes at Hastings tomorrow – the first Group One of the season.
The Makfi Stakes includes the Australian performed Veyron, Survived, Sacred Star and Xanadu. Sportsbet.com.au have a fixed odds market set with recent winner I Do the current $4.80 favourite upon the scratching of Silent Achiever.
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