The NSW Trainers Association (NSWTA) has come out to bat for Albury trainer Norm Loy, who late last week, was disqualified for three months by Racing NSW stewards following an expletive-ridden rant on Facebook that was aimed at NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her handling of the current NSW-wide lockdown.
Loy was deemed to have broken rule AR 228 (a) Conduct detrimental to the interests of racing, in that:
A person must not engage in conduct prejudicial to the image, interests, integrity, or welfare of racing, whether or not that conduct takes place within a racecourse or elsewhere.
Upon the advice of prominent lawyer, Damian Sheales, Loy has since appealed the decision as he believes his comments, that were made on his private Facebook page, before being shared by another industry participant, did not bring racing into disrepute.
While NSWTA CEO Richard Callander did not agree with Loy’s comments regarding the NSW Premier, he has thrown his full support behind the embattled NSW trainer, highlighting that the result of this appeal could have wider ramifications on free speech for Racing NSW participants in the future.
“When I spoke with Norm on the weekend, he was relaxed about the disqualification saying he only has babies and he would cop it on the chin,” Callander said.
“I offered him assistance if he wanted to appeal the decision as we thought the ruling has a wider effect on free speech about matters that don’t relate to racing nor racing people.
“The NSWTA certainly don’t agree with what Norm wrote about the Premier of NSW, but it was written on his private Facebook page and with it having no material effect on racing or its participants, a penalty of disqualification seems most harsh.”
Callander reasoned that Loy was close to people who have been severely impacted by the two NSW-wide lockdowns and said the Facebook post was ‘no big deal’, considering it was published on his private Facebook page and not his ‘Norm Loy Racing’ Facebook page or any other public forum.
“I believe many of Norm’s friends have been greatly affected by the lockdowns and with a bit of alcohol involved it got the better of him. His language wasn’t ideal, but Norm emphasised what he said was only going on his private Facebook page so no big deal,” Callander said.
“Following our chat, Norm tells me he was contacted by prominent lawyer Damien Sheales who has taken on the case, and we will be there to show Norm support.”
Callander did want to reiterate his thanks to the NSW Government for their support during the Covid-19 pandemic, explaining that the NSW Premier and her team had been integral to racing being able to continue through lockdowns and restrictions.
“For the record, the Premier of NSW has been an incredible supporter of racing and her team has worked arm in arm with Racing NSW allowing the industry to continue to work and thrive throughout the pandemic,” Callander said.
With no appeal date set in stone, it remains to be seen how Racing NSW will respond to the matter, which has since attracted the attention of many mainstream media outlets, racing personalities and participants, all of whom share varying opinions on the comments posted by Loy and the penalty handed down by the governing body.