A mid-winter harness race in Nelson is at the centre of a police inquiry into alleged match-fixing - with allegations at least one of the drivers manipulated the result.
Charges have been laid in relation to Race 11 at Nelson on June 8, which was won by Storm Prince, driven by champion driver Blair Orange.
Another driver in the event has been charged with manipulating the result of the race - and causing losses to the betting public and other race participants.
The charge is laid under the Crimes Act and carries a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison.
That driver's horse was considered one of the pre-race favourites - he has been accused by police of not attempting to win.
That driver is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court this afternoon.
He is also charged with possessing the Class B drug MDMA for supply and with supplying Class B drugs (MDMA).
There were 11 horses in the race, part of a two-day Nelson racing carnival in June.
The owner of the horse that allegedly under-performed in the Nelson race said no-one had told them their horse was embroiled in the matter and did not know the rider had been charged.
"It's all news to me," the owner said today.
Nelson Racing Club immediate past president John McKenzie said today he was "hugely disappointed" at news of the police charges.
"It holds nothing with the Nelson Harness Racing Club. It's [the accused].
"I'm hugely disappointed about the whole thing. It only takes one rotten egg to ruin it for everybody," said McKenzie, a current club committee member.
"I think it is disgusting if the these charges are proved. It's not a nice look into sport, not a nice look at all."
Seven people charged today after police raids
Seven people have been charged in relation to a police inquiry into allegations of race-fixing and corruption in the harness racing industry.
A 26-year-old man is due to appear in Christchurch District Court today on charges of deception by match-fixing, possessing Class B drugs for supply, and supplying Class B drugs.
Four men, aged 34, 40, 41 and 44, are due to appear in Christchurch District Court next week on match-fixing charges.
A 41-year-old woman was also due to appear the same day on two counts of supplying Class B drugs.
A 27-year-old man has been charged with deception by match-fixing and is due to appear in Palmerston North District Court next week.
The charges follow raids at 10 stables yesterday in Canterbury, Manawatu and Invercargill.
The police investigation was sparked by information passed to police by the Racing Integrity Unit as early as April last year and police have tapped phones and checked text messages as part of the investigation.
Racing Minister Winston Peters said yesterday: "This is a sad development. New Zealanders need to have confidence that the racing industry has integrity and is not above the law."
Police executed search warrants yesterday at eight properties in Christchurch, one in Manawatū and one in Invercargill.
Detective Superintendent Tim Anderson said the searches were the result of a long-running investigation into alleged corruption in the harness racing industry.
The Herald understands the investigations are into alleged race fixing involving up to four stables - with the possibility of collusion to effect the outcome of races for either gambling profit or to earn stake money.
He said the investigation began with information supplied by the Racing Integrity Unit.
"Police have been working in partnership with the RIU and other relevant organisations throughout the investigation."
The investigation was ongoing and police expected to provide further details in the coming days, Anderson said.
New Zealand Racing Board chairwoman Glenda Hughes said allegations of race-fixing were disappointing but showed "the racing integrity system is working".
"The actions taken today resulted from information received by the Racing Integrity Unit [RIU], an independent body charged with maintaining integrity in the sport," she said.
"That information initiated a co-ordinated and careful investigation between NZ Police and the RIU.
"The value of having an independent integrity body focused on investigating and prosecuting any alleged impropriety is reinforced in this action."
Racing Board CEO John Allen said: "Those involved in the industry and the Kiwi punters who support it must have confidence in the integrity of the sport.
"I am confident that our integrity systems work and that where alleged breaches of our rules and of criminal law are identified, they are investigated and prosecuted appropriately."