NSW Racing's Chairman of stewards, Ray Murrihy, might not make too many visits these days to the Northern Rivers but when he does, things certainly happen.
Last Thursday, Murrihy suspended comeback jockey Matt Dracos for 12 months after the jockey tested positive to a prohibited drug and yesterday he sacked Northern Rivers Racing's deputy chairman of stewards, Tate Hudson.
The 20-year-old steward was informed he was out of a job at 1.30pm yesterday and told to leave his car keys, binoculars and mobile phone on the desk and leave the steward's offices immediately.
He had only been in the job for six months after spending more than a year-and-a-half as a cadet steward in Sydney.
It's understood Tate was sacked because Racing NSW had found him guilty of fraternising with local jockeys and licensed persons.
All stewards are obliged under their code of conduct rules not to socialise with anyone involved in the racing industry, and that includes racehorse owners.
A distressed Tate Hudson claimed that on this occasion there were mitigating circumstances involved and that these weren't taken into proper consideration.
“I will be closely looking into an unfair dismissal case and I hope to speak to a solicitor as early as tomorrow about it,” he said.
The key piece of evidence against Tate involved two young Grafton apprentices, Ben Looker and Adam Hyeronimus, coming around to his home and staying the night in June this year.
Tate said he'd just spent four-and-a-half days in hospital on a drip and had only returned to home that day when the two jockeys popped in to cheer him up.
“They'd been out for dinner together and thought it was a good idea to come around and see how I was going,” he said.
“Quite frankly, it could have been the devil at the door and I would have invited him in to chat, I was feeling so low. Mind you, it now seems as though I might have invited the devil in because I have lost my dream job.”
Looker and Hyeronimus had a number of beers that night at Tate's place so the young steward told them not to drive and to stay over and just go straight to trackwork the next morning.
“They were intending to drive back to Southgate and I thought I would do the right thing by them,” Tate said.
Murrihy questioned Tate at length about his friendship with the two young jockeys and even went through his mobile phone records.
“I told him that I did consider them as friends, but I had always maintained a professional distance between them and myself and as such hadn't breached the rules of my profession. Obviously Murrihy didn't agree with me.”
Tate said that he had been placed in a position of high responsibility in the Northern Rivers and admitted that he really didn't have the credentials to do the job properly.
“Most deputy chief stewards are 40 years of age and they have had plenty of life experiences to call from,” he said.
“I was really dropped off in Grafton and told that chief steward Bill Fanning would teach me what to do and that was it. Bill was great and I learnt a lot, but even he will say I still had plenty to learn.
“I now feel like I have been abandoned by Racing NSW after they over-promoted me. I wanted to be a racing steward all my life, I just love it. But my dream has now been crushed.”
NSW Racing refused to make any comment in regards to the sacking.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.