Queensland trainer Darren Bell says he has been forced to quit after racking up crippling debts when his stable was closed because of a strangles outbreak.
Bell reported two of his horses had strangles in December last year and Racing Queensland shut down his operation.
His stables are at a rural property at Caboolture, north of Brisbane, but Bell was effectively unable to return to training until April.
He said horses had started moving out of his stables on Thursday and Bell expected to find new homes for his team of 24 by the end of next week.
Bell said he had got so far in debt by having no income for four months he had to make a decision, and it was a hard one.
“I have dug my self so far into debt that I can’t see how I am ever going to get out. But I can’t go on this way,” Bell said.
“The impact on my finances and my personal health have been a disaster. I have to sit down once the horses are gone and I have handed in my licence and make a plan for my future.”
Bell said he did not want to come across as a whinger but it was hard to take.
“I wasn’t asking for any hand-outs from RQ. But I did what I thought was the right thing by the industry and I was virtually forced out,” Bell said.
“RQ seems to have plenty of money for promotions no-one wants and to put on new staff. But they were no help to me at all.
“There was a review but nothing came of it. If strangles hits a horse at Eagle Farm I hate to think what will happen to the industry if a trainer does the right thing, same as me, and ends up broke and depressed.”
In NSW, Godolphin’s former trainer John O’Shea and ex-managing director Henry Plumptre were fined for failing to notify stewards of a strangles case.
Victorian trainer Matt Cumani was suspended for three months and fined when he failed to notify authorities of strangles in his stable.
Bell and his father Peter have been fixtures in Queensland racing for 30 years.
Darren Bell has trained about 300 winners in his career after taking over from Peter about 15 years ago.