Maher Suspended Six Months

Australian trainer Ciaron Maher has been suspended six months and fined A$75,000 after Racing Victoria stewards deemed he should have known about the involvement of a notorious criminal in the ownership of five horses in his stable.

The 36-year-old Maher pleaded guilty to a charge of conduct prejudicial to racing’s image, and his suspension will begin on Oct. 2, giving the trainer a week to make arrangements for the horses under his care. printed a letter allegedly issued by Maher to his owners, which read, “As you have probably just heard, I have pleaded guilty to section 175A and today the [Racing Appeals and Disciplinary] Board has suspended me for six months and fined me $75,000. The suspension begins on Oct. 2. While I am disappointed to find myself in this situation, I am relieved a decision has been finally made. I would like to thank the RAD Board for their consideration of my case. The past 12 months have certainly taken a toll on my health, however, I have an incredibly supportive team at Ciaron Maher Racing who will be able to ensure the smooth running of the operation in the interim.”

The issue involved five horses under Maher’s care, including G1 Coolmore Legacy S. winner Azkadellia (NZ) (Shinko King {Ire}). The horses were registered to the ownership of Ben Connolly, Maher’s former racing manager, and Maher first became aware of other potential involvement in the ownership in late 2014. He notified stewards at the time and told Connolly to rectify the situation, but in September 2016 stewards were not satisfied it had been resolved, and slapped the five horses with a ban from racing while the inquiry was in progress. That ban is still in place.

The convicted criminal involved in the ownership was Peter Foster, and his niece Arabella Foster was also involved.

Maher had been a rising force in the Australian training ranks in recent years. In addition to Azkadellia his flagbearers included G1 Caulfield Cup and G1 Crown Oaks winner Jameka (Aus) (Myboycharlie {Ire}), another Crown Oaks winner in Set Square (Aus) (Reset {Aus}) and dual Group 1 winner Srikandi (Aus) (Dubawi {Ire}).

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