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Tragedies and cocaine: The biggest stories of the racing season



As usual, the great and unpredictable game of horse racing has produced some big news stories in the 2022/23 season.

Tragically, none were bigger than the death of much-loved jockey and father of four, Dean Holland, in April.

Here were 10 of the biggest news stories — not including the major race wins — over the past year.

Peter Moody.


In November, Moody was fined and forced to apologise after an audio update he sent to a group of owners after a race was leaked. In the message, Moody, among other things, described jockey Blaike McDougall as a “brain dead f***en rider”. Fair to say Pete’s been a bit more careful with his audio updates since.

Ben Currie.

CURRIE COCAINE SAGA (click here to read)

In May, controversial Queensland racing identity Ben Currie was disqualified for 18 months (later reduced to nine months on appeal) by stewards over his role in a bizarre cocaine horse saga. Mark and Ben Currie were found guilty by Queensland racing stewards after a horse trained by Mark Currie, End Assembly, tested positive to cocaine after winning a $200,000 stakes race.

Apprentice jockeys Jasper Franklin, Tyler Schiller and Dylan Gibbons in their jockey vests.

JOCKEY FATIGUE / SAFETY VESTS / CONCUSSION (click here to read plus more on safety vests here and more on concussion here)

Jockey safety was a huge talking point after a series of serious race falls in March. Many jockeys complained about fatigue due to a jam-packed calendar. Several leading jockeys also spoke up about problems regarding safety vests, which has led to a new Racing Australia review, as well as their battles with concussion.

Sandown Trackwork Session

I’m Thunderstruck was a popular horse with the public.

I’M THUNDERSTRUCK’S DEATH (click here to read)

One of Australia’s most popular racehorses died after a freak accident in March. ‘Thunder’ was humanely euthanised after an incident following a routine fetlock operation. Thunder won $8.3m prizemoney in his 23-start career, including wins in the Golden Eagle, Makybe Diva Stakes and Toorak Handicap. R.I.P Thunder.

Ric McMahon holding a jigger during trackwork at Birdsville.

BIRDSVILLE JIGGER SCANDAL (click here to read)

In August, prominent racing photographer Sharon Chapman inadvertently snapped jockey Ric McMahon using a jigger at trackwork in the lead up to the famous race. Trainer Todd Austin was later disqualified for five years, McMahon copped a 3½-year ban and Austin’s wife, Toni, received a 12-month disqualification.

Deane Lester in the mounting yard.

DEANE LESTER’S DEATH (click here to read)

The esteemed form student succumed to cancer in February, aged only 54. Lester was widely adored and respected in the racing industry. His death left a big hole with racing participants, particularly in Victoria, where he was lauded by so many. R.I.P Deano.

Tommy Berry

Tommy Berry at work at the Evergreen Turf Farm.

TOMMY BERRY CHARGED (click here to read)

The racing world was shocked when the super hoop was issued with a series of stewards charges in December for improper dealings with a professional punter. Berry has recharged his batteries after his enforced layoff and will return to race riding in September.

Jamie Kah seen in images with a white powder.

JAMIE KAH WHITE POWDER VIDEO (click here to read)

In June, video emerged of Jamie Kah with a white powder. She and stablehand, Ruby McIntyre, were charged by Racing Victoria stewards and both are awaiting a VCAT hearing. McIntyre was outed as the one who filmed the video and shared it to others privately. However, the video soon became public when it was sent to a journalist.

Jamie Kah arrives at Royal Melbourne Hospital after a fall at Flemington. Picture: Channel 9

JAMIE KAH FALL (click here to read)

Jamie Kah and Craig Williams fell during a race at Flemington on Newmarket Handicap day in March. Both were seriously injured and rushed to hospital. Kah remains on the sidelines after suffering a brain injury. The previous week, Ethan Brown was seriously injured in a fall in the Australian Guineas while Teo Nugent fell the next week on All-Star Mile day. Both are yet to return to race riding.

Harvey Norman Ararat Maiden Plate

Dean Holland four days before his death.

DEAN HOLLAND’S DEATH (click here to read)

The much-loved 34-year-old jockey left behind a partner and four beautiful children when he was killed in a fall at Donald in April. It devastated his family, friends and the entire racing industry. The tragedy sparked an incredible outpouring of grief. A GoFundMe page to raise money for his family has topped an incredible $1.95m. R.I.P Dutchy.

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