WAITING: Coffs Harbour’s John Keating gave evidence to Queensland racing stewards on Wednesday.
WAITING: Coffs Harbour’s John Keating gave evidence to Queensland racing stewards on Wednesday. File

Inquiry drags on

COFFS Harbour jockey John Keating is still waiting to hear if further action will be taken in the wake of his ill-fated trip to Caloundra to ride Baby Boom on January 3.

Before heading to Wednesday’s resumed inquiry at the Deagon offices of Queensland Racing stewards, Keating told the Coffs Coast Advocate he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

But after a day of sensational evidence centred on punters Neville Clements, Alessandro Alaimo and Kevin McFarland who are alleged to have won $70,000 from betting exchange Betfair by backing Baby Boom to lose, stewards advised the horse’s former trainer John Nikolic and jockey Keating that ‘all evidence would now be considered and further action determined.

After failing to attend the inquiry, the three punters have been asked to show cause why they should not be warned off Queensland racecourses.

According to the official report released after the hearing, John Nikolic confirmed a long term relationship with Mr Alaimo and admitted speaking with him on the morning of the race.

He denied offering information as to the winning chances of the horse.

When questioned about his relationship with Mr Alaimo, John Keating said they had met and had spoken on the telephone but there was no association of any substance between them.

Stewards also questioned Keating about the circumstances of the race on January 3 when Baby Boom ran fourth after starting $1.30 favourite.

They took issue with the horse being slow to begin and interference suffered during the run, before querying the jockey’s vigour in the closing stages.

However, claims were made outside the hearing that inferences drawn from this line of questioning may be in conflict with the official Stewards Report issued after the race.

Part of that report states: ‘G Geran, rider of Kirkuk, was severely reprimanded for allowing his mount to shift in near the 900, when not quite clear of Baby Boom (J Keating), which had to be steadied and its rider obliged to take evasive action to avoid the heels of Kirkuk.’

The erratic performance of Kirkuk was mentioned on two further occasions and jockey Gary Geran was later suspended under AR137(a) for careless riding in the race.

Further, the horse Monaire is listed in the steward’s report as being ‘slow to begin’ but Baby Boom is not.

Jockey Keating responded angrily when asked if he’d received a financial benefit from Baby Boom’s unplaced run.

“Definitely not, not one single cent,” he replied.

“It’s a bit embarrassing to travel all that way on one I thought would win and get beaten.

“I’m a bit dirty that I have been dragged in with this.”

No date has been set for the resumption of the investigation.

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