A prominent racehorse owner in Australia has pleaded guilty to importing cocaine into the country through commercial flights.
Damion Flower, part-owner of group 1 winner and successful stallion Snitzel, was arrested in May 2019 following a police sting on a drug syndicate operating out of Sydney Airport.
The 48-year-old had maintained his innocence but appearing at a district court in Sydney March 29, he admitted to one count of importing a commercial quantity of cocaine and another of dealing with the proceeds of crime worth more than AU$100,000.
The court heard Flower’s charges cover a period between June 2016 and May 2019.
Flower, who worked as a baggage handler between 2000-04, has shares in more than 50 horses, including some of the country’s most prized stallions.
He part-owned Snitzel who won seven races—including the 2006 Oakleigh Plate (G1) at Caulfield—before becoming Australia’s leading sire.
Responsible for four-time group 1 winner Trapeze Artist and champion sprinter Redzel, Snitzel has been champion sire for the last four years and demanded a fee of AU$220,000.
Flower also owned a slot in Australia’s richest race, The Everest, and Racing New South Wales is thought to be deciding how the slot will be sold.
Horses trained by Flower’s stable, Platinum Park in Hawkesbury, were scratched initially, but the governing body later said they could continue to race with any prize money frozen until the charges had been determined.
Flower will be sentenced along with former baggage handler To’or’o (John) Mafiti in September.