$10,000 fine over racetrack fisticuffs

BALLINA trainer Stephen Lee has been slapped with a $10,000 fine after a stewards inquiry at the Ballina Jockey Club found him guilty of improper conduct following a physical altercation with another Ballina trainer, Steve Phelps.

Mr Lee and Mr Phelps, who are both respected long-term trainers in the district, were involved in an altercation in the vicinity of the stabling block on Racecourse Road, Ballina, on November 12.

Northern Rivers Racing Association chairman of stewards Bill Fanning was unable to comment on the reasons behind the incident because Lee was appealing against the finding, but he agreed it was a hefty fine.

"It's in the higher bracket," Mr Fanning said.

"But it's been a policy of stewards throughout the State over the past few years.

"It (the penalty) can range from three months to a two-year disqualification, to substantial fines."

Mr Fanning said the $10,000 fine was one of the largest handed out on the Northern Rivers for some time.

In considering the penalty, stewards took into account Mr Lee's unblemished record in regard to such behaviour in more than 30 years of licensing history, some evidence of provocation, his personal situation, his substantial investment in the industry and the effect any period of suspension of his licence would have on others involved in his dealings within the industry.

Mr Phelps was also found guilty of improper conduct and suspended for three months and three weeks.

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