On Thursday, 23 May 2019, Racing NSW was informed that thoroughbred racehorse owner Mr Damion Flower had been issued with serious charges relating to importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
Racing NSW acted immediately to protect the integrity, image and interests of thoroughbred racing by issuing a show cause notice to Mr Flower on that day, which has been served on his representative, requiring him to show cause as to why the provisions of AR23 should not be imposed against him in respect of his ongoing participation in the thoroughbred racing industry.
In this respect, it is important to note that the stand-down conditions under AR23 (which were introduced into the Rules of Racing in October 2013) are intended to protect the integrity, image and interests of thoroughbred racing while charges are being determined against a person and Racing NSW is in no way prejudging the charges against Mr Flower nor interfering with his entitlement to the presumption of innocence.
Pending the hearing and determination of that show cause notice, Racing NSW also imposed the following interim conditions in respect of Mr Flower’s ongoing participation in the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry.
1. Horses owned by Mr Flower (including through a company or a syndicate) will be permitted to continue to race or be trained on the condition that all prizemoney earnt by Mr Flower or any such company or syndicate interest will be frozen and held by Racing NSW or provided to any third party subject to any legal requirement, until all charges issued against Mr Flower have been determined;
2. Mr Flower’s registered racing colours of red with white spots will not be permitted to be used in races or barrier trials;
3. Mr Flower, if granted bail, is not permitted to have any participation in thoroughbred racing including not being able to enter racecourses, training tracks, training premises, not being able to be employed by, or otherwise engaged to provide any service in any capacity to any thoroughbred racing stable, not being able to share in the winnings of any horse and not being able to otherwise participate in any way in the preparation for racing or training of any horse.
Racing NSW also intends to forfeit Mr Flower’s Slot in the 2019 The Everest in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Slot Licence, with a decision yet to be made as to precisely how that Slot will be re-offered.
As for Mr Flower’s participation in The Everest in future years, a decision will be made on those matters at the appropriate time taking into account the status of the charges against Mr Flower.
Racing NSW Chief Executive, Mr Peter V’landys AM, said: “No matter what the circumstances, Racing NSW will provide due process and natural justice to its participants.
“Accordingly, I stress that we are not pre-judging Mr Flower’s case who is entitled to the presumption of innocence and will be given every opportunity to respond to the show cause notice issued by Racing NSW when he is able to so.
“However, in the interim, it is critical that the integrity, image and interests of thoroughbred racing in New South Wales be protected which is why Racing NSW has imposed interim conditions on Mr Flower’s participation in the thoroughbred racing industry.
“It is also important that other racing participants that race horses with Mr Flower are not unfairly prejudiced as a result of the charges against Mr Flower.
“The interim conditions have been framed so that those persons, who are not involved and need to be treated accordingly so as they are not disadvantaged due to circumstance beyond their control, can continue to train and race horses,” added Mr V’landys.