RACEHORSE Azkadellia has been stood down amid an investigation into whether its real owner is notorious Gold Coast conman Peter Foster.
Racing Victoria yesterday confirmed it would reject any race nominations for the mare, who started favourite in this year’s Stradbroke Handicap and won the $1 million Queen of the Turf Stakes at Royal Randwick.
Entries for three other racehorses – Hart, Loveable Rogue and Mr Simples – will also be rejected because of suspected Foster links.
All were registered as being owned by Ben Connolly, racing manager for leading Victorian trainer Ciaron Maher.
The Courier-Mail can reveal bank records show transfers of large sums of money from Mr Connolly’s accounts to one of Foster’s closest associates.
Recent reports suggested Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne was in the mix to ride Azkadellia, while there were also plans to take the horse to the Breeders’ Cup in California.
Azkadellia has already won more than $1.5 million in prizemoney.
Records sighted by The Courier-Mail show a bank account associated with Foster’s niece Arabella Foster made a $280,000 payment in August 2014 that is believed to be for the purchase of Azkadellia.
Mr Connolly bought the racehorse just over a year later, in September last year, with bank statements indicating he paid as little as $60,000.
At the time, investigations were ramping up into Foster’s secret links to the Sports Trading Club, which has been accused of fleecing 400 investors of up to $29 million.
Private investigator Ken Gamble has been pursuing Foster’s assets on behalf of investors and yesterday said he would seek to seize ownership of the racehorses.
“We are intending to file a court injunction to prevent the horses from being sold until such times as the investigation is complete,” Mr Gamble said.
“Any assets associated with Peter Foster are going to be taken and liquidated and returned to the investors he ripped off.
“I will be relentless in my pursuit of assets he has purchased as a result of him scamming my clients.”
Foster is a horse racing fanatic and has a long association with Maher, trainer of all four suspended horses.
Racing Victoria stewards have interviewed Mr Maher and Mr Connolly and advised them entries for the four horses will be rejected.
The investigation was launched after an exclusive report in The Sunday Mailin June, which revealed Foster was suspected of having a secret financial stake in Azkadellia.
Foster was pictured in a chauffeur-driven black Mercedes-Benz and being driven to Eagle Farm racecourse for AAMI Stradbroke Day.
It is understood Mr Connolly did not attend Stradbroke Day, despite his horse being favourite to win the richest race in Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
Source: Courier Mail