Renowned trainer Gai Waterhouse has launched a stinging attack on her long-time friend and racehorse owner John Singleton, saying he brought the sport into disrepute by believing "Chinese whispers" between "a trumped up little jockey, a brothel owner and a football player".
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'Gai Waterhouse on edge'
The stewards at Racing NSW declined John Singleton's request to leave the inquiry early while trainer Gai Waterhouse has been on the defensive, reports Kate McClymont.
Clearly angry and upset with the speculation surrounding her actions and those of her bookmaker son Tom Waterhouse and husband Robbie Waterhouse, Mrs Waterhouse's tirade was the culmination of a long and heated day at the stewards inquiry into the running of the All Aged Stakes at Randwick on Saturday April 27.
In the final minutes of the hearing, Mrs Waterhouse accused Mr Singleton of the entire furore, saying if he hadn't gone on television and made "outlandish" statements about the horse being injured, "we wouldn't be sitting here".
"It was Chinese whispers ... a conversation between a trumped up little jockey, a brothel owner and a football player," she said angrily, referring to Allan Robinson, Eddie Hayson and league legend Andrew Johns.
"That's why we're here, that's what our livelihoods are swinging on in front of you today. They're the people who are discrediting my son, my husband, and myself. We've all come here and we are being ridiculed because we're here. It's an absolute disgrace. He (Singleton) has brought racing into disrepute."
To Singo directly, she said: "You're an absolute sham."
Softening, she described him as being her "most valued owner" but queried why, if he was so concerned at the information he was receiving on that day, he hadn't gone to the stewards himself to report the rumours about the horse.
Neither Johns, Hayson or Robinson had complied with orders by the stewards to attend the hearing.
Sitting at the opposite ends of the Racing NSW boardroom table, Mrs Waterhouse and Mr Singleton had traded barbs all day, with Tom and Robbie joining in the sport at various intervals.
'Big-noting' Johns fears axe from Channel Nine
NRL legend Andrew Johns fears being sacked by Channel Nine for his role in the More Joyous racing controversy, believing the network values its multi-million-dollar deal with Tom Waterhouse above his services.
He believed he would be collateral damage because (of the) $12.5 million that Tom spends at Channel Nine.
That was the evidence given by millionaire John Singleton on Monday afternoon, who told a stewards inquiry Johns was extremely upset and anxious that he may have "embellished" the information given to him by Waterhouse about the state of the horse.
Meanwhile, Gai and Tom Waterhouse have accused Mr Singleton of being drunk when he confronted Mrs Waterhouse about the state of his mare prior to the All Aged Stakes on April 27.
Johns visited Mr Singleton at his farm on Tuesday, the ad-man saying he had never seen the league legend so upset and dishevelled, fearing he had caused embarrassment to all the parties over what he had been
"He believed he would be collateral damage because (of the) $12.5 million that Tom spends at Channel Nine ... He said (to me), 'I will be collateral damage'," Mr Singleton told the inquiry.
Johns has not attended the inquiry despite a request to do so.
Mr Singleton said he advised Johns to go to Channel Nine and simply explain and apologise that he had possibly blown it out of proportion, "big-noting the information he had got", but that did not appear to have occurred.
Three members of the Waterhouse family, Mr Singleton and a swag of media have been at Racing NSW headquarters in Sydney on Monday for the stewards' inquiry into the poor performance of More Joyous in the All Aged Stakes.
The inquest sparked a bitter and public spat between Singleton and Waterhouse, amid allegations that her bookmaker son Tom might have told people the horse could not win the prestigious event.
Tom Waterhouse reiterated to the inquiry that he had never spoken to anyone about the mare’s health, despite reports he had talked to Johns about the horse before the race.
‘‘I only saw (Johns) briefly before the race started and we didn’t talk about More Joyous’ fitness, health or anything like that,’’ he said.
Mr Singleton told the inquiry he had been surprised to hear Johns use the word "embellish" to describe the information he had passed on.
"I thought someone's been eating the dictionary or someone at Channel Nine has been improving his (Johns') vocabulary," he said, prompting laughter from the public gallery.
Nonetheless, he said Johns believed Tom Waterhouse had told him the horse "was off".
Johns placed a $100 bet on the horse to win the race, but betting records show that was not done until about 4.15pm - immediately prior to the race.
Across the hearing room, Tom Waterhouse asked Mr Singleton to confirm that Johns had told him he backed the horse "before you cause significant damage to me and my business".
Mr Singleton said yes, Johns had told him he was backing it.
'Were you on medication?'
On Monday afternoon, Gai and Tom Waterhouse accused John Singleton of being drunk on the day of the race and asked whether he was on medication at the time.
Mr Singleton said he was not on any medication, and had consumed only three beers prior to the race - but "as much as I could afterwards", he added, jokingly.
In an increasingly heated hearing, the two former friends traded barbs, with the renowned horse trainer blaming More Joyous' owner for unsettling the jockey, Nash Rawiller, prior to the All Age Stakes.
Mrs Waterhouse said Mr Rawiller could not have helped being put off from a good race, as a result of the argument she and Mr Singleton had had in the mounting yard just prior to the race.
"The jockey can't think straight ... Nash isn't in a composed a situation as he normally would be joking onto the horse (with you there)," Mrs Waterhouse shot at Singleton.
"I am suggesting that (he didn't ride the horse well)."
But Mr Singleton rejected her claims firmly.
"Nash rode the horse perfectly," he said.
Drug treatments weren't documented
Earlier, it was revealed Gai Waterhouse failed to properly document two drug treatments of More Joyous in the lead-up to the race.
But the prominent trainer vehemently denied saying anything to her husband or son about the horse’s condition.
‘‘I’ll happily swear on a Bible. The first time I made contact with my son was after the race when Mr Singleton screamed abuse at me,’’ Mrs Waterhouse said.
Mrs Waterhouse said Singleton had made “outlandish claims” after the race.
She said perhaps the reason Singleton's vet and racing manager had told their boss not to place a bet on the horse was that he was "such a volatile creature" that they might have been "hedging their bets" on his likely reactions.
The inquiry had heard that More Joyous was experiencing "heat in the neck" on the Wednesday before the race, and that on Thursday morning was given an anti-inflammatory injection for a suspected infection.
However, blood tests on Friday morning revealed the horse had a "slightly elevated white cell count", so in consultation with vets employed by Gai Waterhouse and Singleton, she was given a further anti-inflammatory as a precaution.
But the inquiry heard that neither of these was documented in the horse’s official treatment book as required by racing regulations.
Singleton told the inquiry he had spoken to his form expert, Peter Dawkins, who said the horse was a certainty.
But when he spoke to his racing manager, Duncan Grimley, and his vet, John Peatfield, they had told him of issues with the horse in the days before the race.
He said he had plans to wager $100,000 on More Joyous winning the race but Mr Grimley and Dr Peatfield had advised him just to enjoy the day and not place a bet.
“(They said) there is no reason why she shouldn’t run, but there’s no reason to risk 100 grand,” Singleton said in summary of their conversations.
Mr Singleton said once he arrived at Randwick Racecourse about 1.20pm on the Saturday, he received calls from Mr Robinson, a former jockey, and Johns telling him his horse would be more likely to come last than win.
He told the inquiry that once on site he had a “private and heated conversation with Gai in the chairman’s lounge” but she had insisted “the horse would win”.
“All I had was hearsay from an ex-jockey and a famous footballer,” he said when chief steward Ray Murrihy pushed him on why he hadn’t gone to officials with his concerns.
Mr Murrihy told the inquiry he had accessed the telephone records of all the main parties to the inquiry. ‘‘They do provide a very interesting matrix,’’ he said, to chuckles in the room.
Earlier, Dr Peatfield told the inquiry that upon examining More Joyous on the day of the race he found it was fit to run.
Mr Murrihy asked Dr Peatfield whether he was aware of a sensitivity in More Joyous and that she was reluctant to eat off the ground. ‘‘It was worth some consideration but as a result of my examination I didn’t find a reason not to run the mare,’’ Dr Peatfield said.
The inquiry heard that he said at the time: ‘‘I can’t guarantee she’ll win, because that’s not my job, but I can’t see a reason not to run her.’’
More Joyous’ treatment records did not show she had been dosed with two different antibiotics in the two days before her race.
Mr Murrihy said the evidence suggested the mare was dosed with cartrophin on the Thursday and trimetrin the next day, but both were absent from treatment records.
"We never tried to hide anything," Gai Waterhouse said, noting that Mr Murrihy had been told the horse had been treated with antibiotics.
Mr Murrihy replied: "I’m not suggesting you did, but it’s important those records are accurate."
Gai Waterhouse said she didn’t think the issue would affect More Joyous’ racing.
Earlier, Waterhouse stable vet Leanne Begg told the inquiry More Joyous’ blood tests indicated she might have had an inflammation the day before the race.
After conducting a blood test on the Thursday night, Ms Begg received a pathology report the next day which showed slightly elevated white blood cells. But the mare’s temperature was normal, she said.
"They said she was eating well but not off the ground," Ms Begg told the inquiry. "To be honest, I wouldn’t have noticed it."
Ms Begg gave More Joyous an injection of antibiotics about lunchtime on Friday. She thought the mare would be all right to run in the All Aged Stakes "but I thought she needed to be examined on the Saturday", she said.
The highly fancied mare was one of the favourites to win but she drifted in betting before the race and finished second last.
Singleton said he initially had a phone call from Robinson who revealed "a mutual friend ... a rugby league immortal" had told him the horse was not going to perform well in the race.
Singleton said when he spoke to Johns on Saturday, his words were "the horse is off".
"It's his favourite expression ... (he meant) it's not going to win," he said.
Singleton said he told Johns that wasn't his information, and he was going to have a sizeable bet on More Joyous and asked his friend if he would do the same.
Johns apparently said he had already placed a bet on the horse but wouldn't have, if he had known what he knew now.
Singleton said that early the next week, after the horse's poor showing, Johns had been concerned he had "embellished" the information, acknowledging he "had had a bit too much to drink" at the football on the Friday night.
The inquiry has also examined a series of calls and texts records between Johns, punter Eddie Hayson, trainer Kris Lees and jockey Allan Robinson before and after the race in question.
Robbie Waterhouse arrived at the hearing separately from his wife, who was accompanied by her sister Louise. Their son Tom arrived separately to his parents. A massive media throng greeted the trio, all smiling but declining to comment.
Johns earlier confirmed he would not be attending the inquiry. His manager John Fordham said there was no need for him to explain his involvement in the dispute. "Andrew feels he has met the obligations to assist," Mr Fordham said. "He's answered all the questions already."
Mr Fordham said Johns was interviewed by stewards on Friday for more than two-and-a half hours. "There's no more to say," he said.
Robinson and brothel owner and professional punter Hayson are not attending the hearing, nor is Nash Rawiller, More Joyous' jockey.
Last Wednesday Singleton said he was confident the inquiry would uncover who financially benefited from the betting scandal that led to the end of his long relationship with Gai Waterhouse.
The crucial details would soon be uncovered. "A lot of it's out as to who rang me to say that the horse was off and couldn't win. That's all done and dusted as far as I'm concerned," he said. "But who was behind who, and who asked … what the betting trends were, who benefited - that's unknown territory."
What will happen at the inquiry
The inquiry into More Joyous' poor performance in the All Aged Stakes will convene at Racing NSW Offices on Monday at 11am.
WHO LEADS THE INQUIRY?
Ray Murrihy and his deputies Marc Van Gestel and Greg Rudolph will form the panel to hear the case.
HOW DOES IT OPERATE?
Stewards will run the inquiry and ask questions of witnesses. Any party wishing to question a witness must do so through Mr Murrihy. As it is an inquiry into the performance of More Joyous, the procedure is to start with stable and veterinary reports before proceeding to betting.
WHAT WILL BE EXAMINED?
The stewards took evidence after the race from owner John Singleton and trainer Gai Waterhouse relating to More Joyous' performance. It included Singleton's allegations about Tom Waterhouse telling his mates that the champion mare "couldn't win". At the original inquiry Singleton refused to give up the names of those who told him this but their identities have since become known. There was also evidence from Gai Waterhouse that she believed there was nothing wrong with More Joyous before the race. It was revealed the horse was given an antibiotic on the Thursday before the race. The stewards will probably examine if she should have said more about the health concerns.
THE VETERINARY EVIDENCE
Waterhouse vet Leanne Begg and Singleton vet John Peatfield will be questioned about the mare before the race. The stable treatment records for More Joyous were collected on the night of the All Aged and will form a strong part of the evidence. Waterhouse staff members, including More Joyous strapper David Meijer and track rider Steve O'Halloran, will give evidence during this part of the inquiry. Singleton's racing manager, Duncan Grimley, will be questioned about when he and his boss found out about any problems. Racing NSW chief veterinarian Craig Suann will provide a report from an inspection of More Joyous at Singleton's Strawberry Hills property on Thursday.
Betting from around the country has been collated and reviewed. Robbie and Tom Waterhouse will give evidence in this part of the inquiry. As every transaction that bookmakers make, including phone calls, has to be documented, it will give an insight into how much money was bet on the race by the Waterhouse father-son combination. Tom Waterhouse's betting will be the focus, and his discussion with other bookies. Evidence from Andrew Johns, former jockey Allan Robinson and punter and brothel owner Eddie Hayson will be presented at this stage. It is believed the three have given statements. If they do not attend, the statements will not be able to be tested under cross-examination and the inquiry could stall.
HOW LONG WILL IT RUN?
The inquiry is likely to run for a couple of days, given the extent of the investigation.