The Fine Cotton racing scandal is set to hit the headlines again when villain Hayden Haitana attempts to get his twenty-nine year ban lifted when he puts a recommendation to the board of Racing Queensland on Friday.
Haitana has spent time in jail as well as being banned for life from all racecourses in Australia since the in-famous Fine Cotton ring-in occurred back in 1984 when the little known Coffs Harbour trainer substituted the open class sprinter Bold Personality for the lesser performed galloper at Eagle Farm.
“I’ve done my time – more than done my time. I actually went to jail over it. Some of the other guys didn’t even go to jail. They had their charges dropped,” Mr Haitana told The Sunday Mail.
Haitana claims that if he didn’t switch the horses, he would probably have been killed and said there was no way out for him.
“Most people wouldn’t know what the situation was in the first place,” Haitana said.
“There was no way out. Once you were picked for the job, you don’t say no. That’s it. I said no 100 times, but you’ve still got to go.
“They came and got me. I was actually a prisoner.”
Haitana claims he did the job he was told to do but only stopped fearing for his life when the hit men were killed themselves.
“The hierarchy changed. I did my job. Those previously, they all got killed. I won the race, so that was it. They had no beef with me there,” he said.
On Friday, the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board will consider the recommendations put to them by stewards and the Thoroughbred board that the ban be lifted for the 68 year old Haitana who has suffered two strokes in recent times.
“It’s time to put the past behind us,” a source said.
Haitana’s latest plea to have his ban lifted was penned in a letter highlighting his desire to be able to take his grandchildren to the races.
“I write to you as a 68-year-old, who had his livelihood taken away more than a quarter of a century ago,” Haitana wrote.
“I write as a grandfather who cannot take his grandchildren to watch the races. I write as a man, who, at one stage, could not visit the home of his own brother because he couldn’t be around thoroughbred horses. I write as a man who forged a life around horses and racing but now must live without either. In short, I write as a man who has served his time.”
The Fine Cotton affair also claimed other high profile scalps including conman John Gillespie who was also jailed as well as Sydney bookmakers Bill and Robbie Waterhouse who had their fourteen year life bans lifted in 1998.
Fine Cotton, who was really Bold Personality, was heavily back all over Australia and firmed in from 33-1 to start the 6-4 favourite and held on to beat Harbour Gold by a head before being disqualified prior to correct weight being notified when the substitution was discovered.