Fine Cotton Affair
Australia Crest

In August 1984, the racehorse Bold Personality was substituted for the inferior performed nag Fine Cotton in a race at Eagle Farm, Brisbane. Fine Cotton won narrowly after being bet from 33/1 down to the odds of 7/2. Stewards were suspicious and the racecourse was soon abuzz with rumour of the ring-in. An enquiry was held and the horse was disqualified from the race with punters losing their money.

The horse and trainer Hayden Haitana quickly disappeared from the racecourse but were soon found by police. Haitana and alleged mastermind John Gillespie were jailed and several people, including a Catholic priest, were 'warned off' by the Australian Jockey Club.

High profile bookmakers Bill and Robbie Waterhouse were two of the people warned off, for having had prior knowledge of the scam and placing bets on Fine Cotton. This later presented some problems for Robbie's wife Gai, daughter of training legend T J Smith, in her attempt to obtain a trainer's licence from the AJC. However, this was finally resolved after much pressure by Gai on the AJC and she won her licence to train, winning the trainer's premiership in 1997.

With control of racing in NSW going to the Thoroughbred Racing Board from the previously unbending AJC, Robbie and Big Bill had their 'warnings off' finally rescinded in late 1998, having been in the wilderness for 14 years. You can get less sentence for murder or ripping off millions of dollars in corporate crime like insider trading, ie. having prior knowledge of a share price increasing in value and taking advantage of it.

Robbie returned to the track in October '98 to see his wife train Group 1 winner In Joyment.

See page on the Waterhouse family, the members of which descended from a First Fleeter.

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