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Electric 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 steward.

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 not guilty.








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