Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

One Small Step for Racing, One Giant Leap towards Oblivion

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

One Small Step for Racing, One Giant Leap towards Oblivion

Article excerpt

Byline: Greg White

FEW realise the mechanics of the infamous Fine Cotton sting on August 18, 1984, had little to do with a substituted horse from Coffs Harbour winning a race in Brisbane.

The 'ring in' pay-off was estimated at $1.5 million, a massive amount for the times but small beer compared to the rivers of gold the bookmakers who benefited from the scam were said to have pocketed.

To maximise profits, the fraudsters desperately needed a race to be run so that when the fraud was 'discovered', stewards actually had a culprit horse they could disqualify.

Under this scenario, all bets stood and the bookies didn't have to return the money ... they trousered the lot.

In pubs, clubs and barber's shops all over the nation, those punters who thought they were about to put one over their local SP bookie (with a hotline to George Freeman, Mick Sayers and other colourful racing characters) were themselves about to become the butt of the joke.

It explains the mystifying decision before the race was run, not to listen to all those people around the Eagle Farm mounting yard shouting 'ring in ... ring in' and why the expression 'prior knowledge' became so significant.

Taking action in advance might have led to a 'no race' declaration - or worse still, the horse being scratched - and the need to pay all that lovely money back to the punt drunk mugs.

This was the last thing those in the skulduggery business wanted for they would have no profit to show for all their dirty deeds.

So the infamous horse with Berger Breeze dripping off its legs entered equine immortality and the betting world discovered not only was it possible to make money from backing winners, an even bigger quid could be made if you have some method of identifying the sure fire losers.

And that folks, in these modern times, is where betting over the internet with betting exchanges has the potential to lead the racing industry into rack, ruin and despair. …

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