Hayden Haitana’s life time ban for his involement in the 1984 Fine Cotton ring-in scandal has been lifted by the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board today.
Haitana has spent the last twenty-nine years warned off all racecourses in Australia and also has spent time in jail 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.
Haitana made a plea for the ban to be lifted by writing a letter to Racing Queensland stewards who forwarded on their recommendation to the board for the ban to lifted.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“Most people wouldn’t know what the situation was in the first place.”
“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.
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.