Ex-trainer has canceled a five-year ban on ‘dacking’ on appeal

The South Australian Racing Appeals Tribunal has flogged stewards over a five-year ban imposed on a former trainer who ‘discovered’ an official earlier this year, saying they acted irrationally because the incident happened to ‘one of their own’.

Todd Balfour will be free to race again on July 13 this year after the South Australian Racing Appeals Tribunal found the South Australian stewards acted far too harshly and said the fact it was “one of their own” , influenced their decision-making.

The former trainer, who is a registered stable hand and track work rider, insulted a Racing SA compliance officer who conducted breath tests at the famous Kangaroo Island meeting for seven people at about 7pm on February 16.

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Balfour, who claims he has no memory of the incident, returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.400, but the appeal panel ruled this was unlikely as he had just had a drink of straight whiskey before the test.

Incredibly, the stewards initially considered a 10-year ban for Balfour, but reduced this to five years after considering his guilty plea and outspokenness.

Todd Balfour is free to return to his role as a track cyclist in July.

While the chairman of the appeal court, Tim Anderson QC, deemed the incident serious in nature, they said it was the actions of “someone who was heavily under the influence of alcohol” and branded it “totally disrespectful to anyone with authority and caused the official considerable embarrassment.”

In delivering their verdict, the appeal panel said a five-year ban would virtually end Balfour’s career in the industry and noted his regret over the incident.

The appeals panel then criticized the stewards over the initial disqualification, saying it was ‘manifestly incorrect’.

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“I think it is important to remind the Stewards that they must judge on an objective basis at all times,” said Anderson KC.

“In retrospect, I think the Stewards may have had such strong views on punishment because the attack was on one of their own.

“This should not have affected their decision-making.

“In saying that, as my reasons show, no reasonable person could have regarded Mr Balfour’s conduct as anything other than serious and certainly inappropriate. While a disqualification was appropriate, a five-year disqualification was manifestly incorrect.”