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Police arrest harness racing trainers, owners, drivers over race fixing allegations -

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ELEANOR HALL: In Victoria, police have raided the properties of some of the sport's top harness racers in Mildura and Melbourne this morning.

Five trainers, drivers and owners are in custody and being questioned by police about allegations that they were involved in an illegal betting syndicate.

Alison Caldwell's filed this report.

(Sound of horse racing commentator)

COMMENTATOR: For the first time Shayne Cramp will get seven winnings at the train at the beating, big Cramp with a big salute.

ALISON CALDWELL: On a Tuesday night in Mildura in July last year, harness racing trainer Shayne Cramp achieved what was believed to be an Australian first.

Not only did his stable win every race that night, but it recorded a Trifecta in Race 1 and the Quinella in the third, fifth and seventh races.

COMMENTATOR: Stand up and applaud the people of Mildura your local champion Shayne Cramp looking for the entire…

ALISON CALDWELL: Shayne Cramp drove three of the winners himself, while his father Greg drove a double.

It was described as one of the most remarkable feats in the history of harness racing in Australia.

(Sound of racing commentator)

ALISON CALDWELL: Today however Shayne Cramp and his father Greg are reportedly at the centre of a police investigation into allegations of race fixing in Victoria.

This morning, police raided four properties in Mildura and one in Bolinda in Melbourne. Five people are being interviewed.

Acting superintendent Tony Glennane says police have been looking into the allegations for 10 months.

TONY GLENNANE: Following an investigation by the sporting integrity intelligence institute, in conjunction with the Mildura crime investigation unit, the allegations evolve around race fixing in the local harness racing.

We've got five people in custody; they include drivers, owners and trainers.

ALISON CALDWELL: The investigation involved Harness Racing Victoria and the Office of the racing integrity commissioner, Sal Perna.

SAL PERNA: The execution of a number of warrants around various parts of Victoria and the arrests of some harness racing industry participants with criminal charges relating to manipulation of races.



ALISON CALDWELL: And is it really about betting activities?

SAL PERNA: The legislation that the police are working to is legislation that was introduced in Victoria in April 2013 and is mainly about the corrupting of a betting activity and it's when the outcome is manipulated that this legislation takes effect.

ALISON CALDWELL: These are known as the new cheating and sport laws?

SAL PERNA: Exactly yeah. Some states have called them cheating at gambling, other sports have called it integrity in sport law.

It various from state to state but it was an initiative of the Commonwealth Government sometime ago when they felt that there weren't strong enough criminal charges for people who are involved in things like match fixing and race fixing.

ALISON CALDWELL: How big is harness racing in Victoria?

SAL PERNA: It's a big sport with respect to its culture and its history. It's a very traditional sport all around the world.

From the size of the betting market it's dropped over a number of years, I think it's now less than 20 per cent, probably around the 15 per cent mark, something like that.

But it's still part of a major industry, if you like. When you combine harness with greyhound racing and with thoroughbred racing, you're looking at an industry that employs over 60-70,000 people, conducts around 18,000, 19-20,000 races and contributes almost $3 billion to the economy.

So it's an integral part of that industry.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Victoria's racing integrity commissioner Sal Perna, ending Alison Caldwell's report into that police raid on some of the top harness racers in the state this morning over allegations they were involved in an illegal betting syndicate.