Group 1 winning hoop Ben Melham has pleaded guilty to more than half the charges laid against him on day one of a high profile hearing into betting offences before the Victorian Racing Tribunal on Monday.
The hearing, scheduled to be heard over three days, was adjourned just minutes into the opening day when Melham’s representative Dermot Dann told the Tribunal the star jockey would plead guilty to four charges.
Melham is accused of having a stake in bets placed mainly through his partner Karlie Dales account in races he was riding in and races he wasn’t involved in last year.
No plea was entered on the more serious offences of charges 4 and 6, which relate to allegations that Melham was betting on races he was involved in.
Jockeys found guilty of betting on races in which they were directly involved face a mandatory minimum penalty of two years.
However, Melham did plead guilty to three betting related charges on Monday as well as a fourth relating to providing false or misleading evidence to stewards.
The three betting charges relate to offences between March 27 and May 19, 2019 where Melham is alleged to have had wagers totalling $17,600 on races he was not riding in.
Ben Melham and partner Karlie Dales. Picture: Jenny EvansSource:News Corp Australia
The bulk of that spend relates to the second betting charge where Melham had an interest in 20 bets totalling $14,600 over a four-hour period on March 30 after initially placing $3000 in cash in Dales’ betting account.
A charge under AR 232(i) for false evidence was issued against Melham for an interview conducted with the hoop back in September last year while a false evidence charge against Dales was withdrawn.
A further betting charge, relating to five bets of $2114 in total on Singapore in August, 2018, was scrapped in October as Australian rules of racing do no explicitly prevent a jockey betting overseas.
Melham was first slapped with seven charges at the end of April this year but has been free to ride throughout the year, including the Melbourne Spring Carnival, until his case was heard.
The case has been marred by long delays, largely due to COVID-19 restrictions, however it is hoped Monday’s guilty pleas will ensure a swift finalisation of the matter.
The hearing is scheduled to resume at 2:15pm (AEDT) on Tuesday for penalty submissions.
Originally published asMelham pleads guilty to betting charges
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