Day At The Track

Driver cops suspension for pig prank

09:43 AM 17 Jun 2017 NZST
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Dannielle McMullen
Dannielle McMullen
Dan Costello Photo

A harness racing driver has been slapped with a ham-fisted three-month suspension because of a fundraising pig whose name “boar” similarities to that of a racing official.

Dannielle McMullen was suspended for three months for “misconduct” after her prank at the recent BOTRA Charity race day in a penalty that left harness racing participants with disbelief.

McMullen did not drive at the meeting, preferring to help raise funds for the charity, being a full-time employee of the Albion Park Harness Racing Club.

One of the fundraisers on the day was a pig race, where participants could “buy” a pig. McMullen took up an offer to race one of the contestants, before deciding to give it a name that had a striking resemblance to deputy chief harness steward Kwan Wolsey.

The pig, officially named Qualm, won the race and McMullen even took the winning ribbon to show Wolsey. Nothing further was said on the day.

The “incident” took a turn for the worse two days later when McMullen was issued with a misconduct charge by stewards.

Harness racing driver Dannielle McMullen. Picture: Dan Costello

At a subsequent inquiry presided over by Joseph Elliott, Kerry Lathopolous and Robyn McCrae from the QRIC Integrity Regulatory Unit, McMullen was suspended and fined $500.

The driver estimates the suspension could cost as much as $10,000. As she’s also a trainer, she has already relinquished horses in her care to other stables.

Albion Park Harness Racing Club chairman David Fowler said the penalty was “over the top”.

“Maybe Dannielle should have been more mindful, but the penalty is way out of kilter for a somewhat innocent mistake,” he said.

“In her employ at Albion Park, I have never once had reason to question her respect or manners.”

Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett vigorously defended the sentence on Friday and said he expected QRIC staff to be “treated with a high level of respect”.

“This action was inappropriate and showed a lack of respect and disregard for common decency in relation to a QRIC staff member. Ms Wolsey felt disrespected by this regrettable incident,” Barnett said.

McMullen is now awaiting the result of an internal review of the penalty before deciding if she will appeal the verdict to QCAT.

By Nathan Exelby

Reprinted with permission of The Courier-Mail


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