James McDonald investigation: Racing NSW request punter’s betting records

Stand and cheer: James McDonald crosses the line for Astern’s debut win. Photo: bradleyphotos江苏夜网江苏夜网论坛Racing NSW stewards requested a punter’s betting records from bookmakers around the country on Wednesday in relation to the investigation that has seen Godolphin jockey James McDonald charged with being a party to a bet.

Fairfax Media understands bookmakers received an email asking for the betting records of Garry Forrester on Wednesday.

Forrester is a regular at Sydney racetracks and is an associate of Anthony Gardiner, who is understood to have placed the bet that led to McDonald being charged. McDonald voluntarily stood down from riding on Tuesday.

It is understood Forrester was approached by stewards at Warwick Farm races on Wednesday.

Godolphin is one of the world’s biggest racing and breeding operations and the organisation, headed by Sheikh Mohammed, is sensitive to any integrity matter. It is standing by McDonald for now.

Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel would not confirm the identity of anyone who had been questioned as part of the investigation as stewards continue to work through the evidence.

“Only James McDonald has been charged at the moment and we are not going to provide a running commentary on this investigation,” Van Gestel said. “We are continuing our investigation. If anyone else is charged, that will be made public.”

Van Gestel said on Wednesday that stewards are reviewing betting information and it is believed they have forensically examined McDonald’s mobile phone.

“There are a number of forensic materials that we need to go through including betting information and other records,” Van Gestel said.

“We intend to interview other people involved in the matter and once those interviews and forensic investigations have been completed we will resume [the inquiry].”

McDonald was taken from Randwick barrier trials and questioned on Tuesday and has been charged with being party to having an interest in a bet on star colt Astern when he won his first start at Randwick on December 5 last year.

Stewards indicated if McDonald had not stood down they would have considered suspending his licence because of the risk it would undermine the “image, interests or integrity” of racing if he continued to ride.

The original information, which led to McDonald being charged, came from a law enforcement agency under a memorandum of understanding and the investigation is casting a widening net.

McDonald is understood to only have had a $1000 on Astern, but he faces a charge, which carries a mandatory two-year disqualification, that could be mitigated by co-operation during the inquiry. His reaction to Astern had drawn the attention of stewards last year, but until they received the information on Tuesday they couldn’t draw a link between him and betting.

Bookmakers have suspended betting on the Sydney jockeys premiership due to uncertainty over when or if McDonald will return to the saddle.

“The market was taken down on Wednesday and will not be going back up until the McDonald matter is concluded,” Ladbrokes spokesman Paul Di Cioccio said. “McDonald regularly rides for the two biggest stables in Sydney, not only Godolphin but Chris Waller as well, and the uncertainty over what could happen is too great to be betting on the premiership at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Glen Courtney, the manager of Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, has been charged by police with drug offences.

Brisbane-based Courtney, who is also the agent for fQueensland jockey Michael Cahill and Tegan Harrison, is due to face court on December 1.

Racing Queensland has suspended his licence while Racing NSW, where McEvoy is licensed, is awaiting details of the charges in the interests of due process.

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