The ashes of a murdered underworld figure’s head - the only remains found of him - have been scattered at Flemington racecourse, according to the dead man’s friend.

Convicted drug trafficker and racing identity Stephen Cookson’s head washed up at Rottnest Island, Western Australia in January 2013, but the rest of his remains have not been recovered.

A friend of the former Ivanhoe Grammar School student, who did not want to be named, said Cookson’s family had scattered his ashes at Flemington in a salute to his fondness for racing.

Cookson, known as a standover man and big punter in racing circles in Victoria and WA, was estranged from his family when he died.

He was living in Western Australia but had falsely boasted of training a Melbourne Cup winner at Flemington, the friend said.

“His brother and sisters came here [to Perth] last week [mid June] from Melbourne, wanting closure,” he said.

“They spent four days talking to people about what he was like; they hadn’t seen him for 20-odd years and didn’t know him.”

A spokeswoman for Flemington racecourse said the organisation was unaware if Cookson’s ashes had been scattered at the track. “While we do receive requests [to scatter ashes], which we manage on a case-by-case basis, the [Cookson family’s] scattering was not brought to our attention until you made contact,” spokeswoman Emily Morris told TWR.

Online racing forums were buzzing last week with the news revealed by the Dirty Cowboys blogger.

“Don’t be surprised to see some very strange results in future race meetings run on the Flemington racecourse,” the blogger wrote. “There might be a few horses and old trainers and jockeys being ‘haunted’ down the straight of Flemington in many years to come.”

Melbourne barrister David O’Doherty, who once represented Cookson, said he was “not surprised at all” by the criminal’s final resting place. “His passion was racing - punting and training horses,” he said.

The Weekly Review Melbourne Times