Ben Melham exonerated on rules interpretation

Ben Melham has been cleared on one of seven alleged betting charges after the Victorian Racing Tribunal found Australian rules of racing do not explicitly prevent a local jockey punting overseas.

In arriving at his decision, Judge John Bowman said “Mr Melham’s behaviour in placing the bets occurred in Australia, but the races involved did not.”

“He is a person licensed in this country and thus subject to these Rules, as discussed above,” Judge Bowman said.

“If, whilst he was in Singapore but still licensed here, he placed bets on Australian races (assuming that such can be done), that would seem to me, prima facie, to be a breach of the Rule.

“However, to state the obvious, that is the opposite of what occurred.

“The Rule under consideration, like many other Rules, is designed to protect the integrity of Australian racing, not Singaporean racing.

Ben Melham had a win at the Victorian Racing Tribunal in his fight against alleged betting charges. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“It does so by prohibiting jockeys from betting on Australian racing or being seen in Australian betting rings.

“Absent clear wording to the contrary, that seems to me to be the way in which the Rule is intended to operate and does in fact operate. Thus, I am of the opinion that Charge 5 is not a valid charge within the meaning of AR 115 (1) (c).”

The VRT is yet to consider the remaining six charges against Melham.

Judge Bowman’s judgment also contained an apology for jockey Liam Riordan, who was given a suspended six-month sentence in 2016 for placing a $20 bet at Deauville.

“Obviously, I am now of the view that such a decision was incorrect,” Judge Bowman said.

“All I can say in my own and the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary board’s defence is that it was a plea of ‘guilty’ and no jurisdictional issues or other technical arguments were advanced. In any event, l apologise to Mr Riordan.”

In another ruling, Richard Laming was found not guilty of administering or causing to be administered cobalt to Iam Ekstraordinary at Ballarat on May 23, 2018.

The VRT said there was “no evidence Mr Laming even knew of the injection being administered.”

Originally published asMelham cleared on Singapore bet

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