Whips scandal Adelaide 1955
May 21 1955 was
the date and the racing world was rocked by news that an electric
whip was seized from a jockey at the starting gates by the SAJC chief
Yes, it really
happened. The end result was a jockey being disqualified for ten years
and several well known racing identites being charged with conspiracy.
The horse involved
at that autumn meeting in 1955 was called Thundering Legion and was
Melbourne trained by Noel Conway. Thundering Legion was backed off
the map in the then strong Adeliade ring as its opening price of 33-1
($34.00) was snapped up by all and sundry and continued to firm throughout
the betting as if unbeatable.
In fact it started
at 7-2 ($4.50). Melbourne big time punter of the day James Jenkins
was primarily responsible for the plunge together with a Sydney man
that history records as Frank Russell and another Vistorian man identified
in the history books simply as W. Irvine.
Just as the horses
were being called in to line the chief stipe of the SAJC, a Fred Everest,
was tipped off that an electric whip was in play and frantically got
driven over to the start where he leapt from the car and demanded
that Adelaide jockey Bill Atrill dismount from Thundering Legion and
hand over his whip.
As Atrill got
off the horse, Everest reached over and grabbed the suspect whip,
only to be thrown in to the air by the resulting electric shock much
to a lot of people's amusement. The whip was really "live"
with a battery and leads cunningly disguised within the whip. The
poor guy must have nearly had a heart attack.
A long delay ensued
as Everest took Atrill back to the jockey's room for instant questioning.
Amazingly, the horse was allowed to run with Des Coleman put on the
horse by the chief stipe as a substitute rider.
Even without the
elecrtric whip. Thundering Legion bolted in and devastated the bookies
who were forced to pay out with the announcement of correct weight.
To say they were unimpressed is an understatement.
At an enquiry
that followed, jockey Atrill was disqualified for ten years, trainer
Conway for five years and Sydney's Frank Russell was warned off racecourses
for five years.
The matter ended
up sensationally in the Supreme Court with Conway, Atrill, Jenkins
and Irvine charged with conspiring to defraud. All parties were found
racing systems and research