Veteran Horseman Ruled Off

Published: September 8, 2011 11:49 am EDT

A day after his 58th birthday, Robbie Byrnes, a 40-year veteran of the Down Under harness racing industry, was warned off by Harness Racing New South Wales after having refused to provide his telephone records in regard to widening probe into corruption in the industry.

According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, Byrnes had been initially suspended for one month in relation to 'questionable' driving tactics he utilized during a July 30 race at Bankstown.

Byrnes is the first horseman to be ruled off as a result of the probe. Earlier, HRNSW ruled owner Mark Vallender off. A pair of HRNSW stewards, Matthew Bentley and Paul O'Toole, tendered resignations from their positions once details of the probe reached the media.

The HRNSW request for the phone logs of specific licensees is in regard to alleged swabbing irregularities. Information was allegedly leaked from disgraced HRNSW stewards as to what horses would and would not be tested for performance-enhancing drugs. HRNSW's investigation into its stewards, horsepeople, owners and punters is still widening. The probe was internal for six months prior to coming out in the media early last month.

The Daily Telegraph report has quoted HRNSW Chief Executive Sam Nati as saying, "The warning off (of Byrnes) goes back to the initial phase of the investigation when certain persons of interest were asked for their phone records."

(With files from The Daily Telegraph)

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