‘Gun attack won’t deter me,’ warns brave racing steward

Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, says the police and Racing Victoria are probing the incident. Photo: AAP

Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, says the police and Racing Victoria are probing the incident. Photo: AAP

The chief racing steward who had six bullets blasted through his front door while his family was home on Sunday night says he will not be deterred from ridding horse racing of its links to the criminal underworld.

The Sunday night attack came in the middle of Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival and a day before the launch of the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup.

Mr Bailey, his wife and two teenage children were at the back of their Templestowe house when the shots were fired, possibly by someone who walked up to the front door.

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Speaking outside his home on Monday, a defiant Mr Bailey told assembled media that he would not be intimidated.

“It’s a job we’re in and we’ve had similar incidents over the years,” he said. “We’re accustomed to it now.

“I was angry that someone did that, that was my initial response. There’s no need for that, it’s below the belt.”

A leader in the push to clean up the racing industry, Mr Bailey has had death threats made against him in recent months related to his work with Racing Victoria.

Five minutes after the shooting, Mr Bailey was seen by neighbour Paul Evans out the front of the house wielding a baseball bat.

Numerous links have been made between the Victorian racing industry and organised crime in recent years.

Last year, Fairfax Media obtained law enforcement reports that indicated industry insiders were leaking information to an organised crime syndicate involved in gambling millions of dollars on horse racing.

In 2011, a crime syndicate was connected to the 2011 murder of horse trainer Les Samba in Melbourne over an alleged $200,000 drug debt.

Some of Victoria’s leading trainers are being investigated over the use of cobalt to dope race horses.

Police investigating

sal perna

Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, says the police and Racing Victoria offices are probing the incident – but not his. Photo: AAP

The body charged with independent oversight of Victorian horse racing has also sought to allay concerns a shooting incident at the home of a senior racing official is reflective of the industry’s links with organised crime.

Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna told The New Daily his office did not plan to carry out its own investigation into the incident.

“We’ll leave it to the police, who are handling the investigation, and we will support that however we can,” he said.

The Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner is a statuary body tasked with providing independent oversight of integrity-related issues.

Mr Perna said he had been in contact with both the police and Racing Victoria to make sure all parties are liaising with each other and that security arrangements have been put in place.

A ballistics investigation is currently being carried out to determine the type of weapon among other factors.

At this stage it is believed a semi-automatic rifle was used in the attack.

Warning against making assumptions before the outcome of the investigation, Mr Perna claimed the incident said more about the person who fired upon Mr Bailey’s home rather than the industry-at-large.

“To fire shots through someone’s door with no idea where they would land, it’s a very personal attack that could have hit anyone, an outrageous act,” he said.

Mr Perna also sought to downplay the timing of the attack in the lead-up to next week’s Melbourne Cup.

“We need to let the investigation play out – [Mr Perna] has been doing this job for quite some time, he’s obviously upset people in the past,” he said.

“It could be one of those people, or it could not be related to any of them.”

More protection

Racing minister Martin Pakula, who was at Flemington on Monday to launch the Melbourne Cup Carnival, told reporters extra security had been provided to Bailey and his family.

“If anybody thinks that Terry Bailey or racing officials will be deterred in any way from providing and ensuring the highest standards and integrity for Victorian racing, they have another thing coming,” he said.

“Terry Bailey is one tough cookie.”

-with AAP


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