As of 11 September, jockeys in New Zealand face tough new rules that prohibit them from betting on any race anywhere in the country if they are riding on the same day. Until now, it has been possible for hoops to bet on a horse they were riding, as well as on any other race they weren’t riding in, both of which practices are not allowed in most other major racing jurisdictions.
In addition, New Zealand’s 150 licensed professional jockeys will only be permitted to place bets via an electronic account in their name with New Zealand’s TAB, so that any wagers that they make are recorded and traceable. However, the country’s 44 licensed amateur riders will still be permitted to bet on races in which they are not riding.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has instituted the ban in order to enhance punters’ confidence in the integrity of racing in NZ, and it has received the approval of all industry stakeholders, including the Minister of Racing, the Racing Integrity Unit, the New Zealand Racing Board and the New Zealand Jockeys’ Association.
“The appearance as well as the practice of integrity is critical against a backdrop of rapidly evolving gambling options which are creating issues for many sports. The strengthening of this Racing Rule will provide greater protection for punters, which is critical for our industry, and support our integrity services,” said the Chairman on NZTR Matthew Goodson. NZTR will also consult on whether any further changes are necessary to bring New Zealand’s rules into line with other major racing countries.
The strengthened Rule 707, which was first mooted in 2013, has come into place now as a result of the scandal involving leading jockey David Walker, of Central Districts, who has been charged with pulling up two horses he was riding in meetings at Waverley in July and Awapuni in August, after he admitted to making head-to-head bets on other horses in the same races. If found guilty at the hearing scheduled for 18 September, Walker could face a lifetime ban; however, while admitting to placing the bets, he has denied the charges that he failed to ride his mounts out.
As a consequence of the Walker scandal, the TAB is reconsidering whether it will continue to offer head-to-head betting, while the Racing Integrity Unit is not ruling out the possibility that their investigations into Walker may yet uncover other instances of illegal betting and racing.