Currie’s alleged jigger texts emerge as he fights 28 charges
TEXT messages in which top Queensland trainer Ben Currie allegedly references the use of a jigger on horses can be revealed in detail for the first time as he prepares to finally face a stewards' inquiry on Monday.
Currie, who last week referred to himself on social media as "The Gingerbread Man" (ie … they can't catch him) before deleting the post, is battling for his racing future after being hit with more than 30 allegations of breaching the rules of racing, including that he used a jigger and sold a horse that bled.
It is alleged Currie sent a message to an unknown person about a horse saying: "Harped him up Wednesday morning … Tried two new pain killers and drenching him tomorrow. Haha" and sent another to his father saying "bled that c …" and "he's f … ed".
Stewards will allege "harped up" refers specifically to the use of a jigger.
Earlier this year, former champion trainer Darren Weir was hit with a four-year ban after jiggers were found on his properties.
Stewards have deferred the Currie inquiry for seven new charges issued in February, including two for the alleged use of a jigger, to next month, along with the hearing into four swab irregularities from Currie-trained horses.
Last month, QCAT Member Robert Olding ruled Currie has "an arguable case" in relation to the seven new charges levelled at him by QRIC.
Evidence tendered for that hearing includes several text messages stewards will use to make their case against the trainer.
The use of the words "harped up" is central to the investigation.
Stewards will allege it refers specifically to the use of a jigger, while Currie's legal counsel Jim Murdoch argued in QCAT last month it could have a multitude of meanings, including "skilled preparation" of a horse.
On March 5, 2017, Currie sent a message to an unknown recipient regarding "an unknown horse" saying: "Harped him up Wednesday morning. Changed his shoeing, Tried two new pain killers and drenching him tomorrow. Haha."
On July 26, 2017, in response to a text asking about Cordon Rouge in a Gatton race the following day, Currie texted: "Yep harped up, claim, mile 3rd up. Surely."
On that afternoon, after Rock Spark had raced, Currie sent texts to his father saying "bled that c …" and "he's f … ed".
Mark Currie responded "Drop rock down here" to which Ben replied "selling" and his father responded "yep".
In determining whether Currie should be granted a stay of proceedings, QCAT Member Robert Olding ruled "the texts are so cryptic that it is, in my view, impossible to deny that a good arguable case that the texts do not support the charge could be made."
The hearing, which starts on Monday and is also scheduled for Tuesday and later on March 25 and 26, will inquire into the 28 charges laid against the trainer in May last year, many of which relate to alleged race-day treatment breaches.
Currie's father Mark has already been disqualified for two years (a sentence he has appealed and successfully sought a stay of proceedings on) based on some of the evidence stewards will use, including CCTV footage.
Vision shows Mark Currie and another employee, Greg Britnell (who was subsequently disqualified for 18 months), orally administering a substance to horses.
Stewards allege this is in contravention of the Australian Rules of Racing's race-day treatment guidelines.
Currie will argue the substance was "Boost" paste and not a medication or performance-enhancing substance.