WINSLOW-raised trainer Ciaron Maher faces the biggest hurdle of his bright career after Racing Victoria stewards hit him with four serious charges.
Maher and his former racing manager Ben Connolly have been charged over the bona fides of the ownership of five horses, including group one winning mare Azkadellia.
Racing Victoria stewards announced the charges late on Monday after a nine-month inquiry.
Maher, who was the toast of Warrnambool less than two weeks ago after he won his fourth Grand Annual Steeplechase at his home track, has been charged with “improper and or dishonourable action or practice”.
Stewards allege among other things, Maher knew, suspected or ought to have known, at certain times, Connolly was not the beneficial owner of the horses. The stewards allege that Maher, in those circumstances, took no steps, including to notify the stewards of his knowledge or suspicions regarding the ownership of the horses.
The third and fourth charges relate to conduct prejudicial to the image, interests and/or welfare of racing. The stewards allege that Maher knew, suspected or ought to have known, at certain times, about Connolly’s misrepresentations and provision of misleading and/or inaccurate information regarding his purported ownership of the horses.
Maher was unable to be contacted for comment.
The charges against the pair will be heard by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on a date to be fixed.