RACING'S FORMER pin-up girl, Lisa Cropp, is understood to have been fleeced of almost $20,000 by a fellow banned rider who is believed to have fled the country last weekend using a stolen passport.
Cropp, who won the jockey's premiership three years in a row and was later banned from riding for testing positive to methamphetamine, has laid a complaint over the missing money to Cambridge police and the TAB.
The complaint alleges Matamata apprentice jockey Mohammed Yusof, 32, originally from Malaysia, electronically transferred money several times in August and September from Cropp's personal account to his TAB account, and then withdrew almost $20,000 in the past couple of weeks. Yusof had also returned a positive methamphetamine test.
Racing industry sources told the Sunday Star-Times that Yusof, his wife and three children, flew out of Auckland Airport last Saturday. Yusof is believed to have used the passport of another Malaysian jockey working for a separate Matamata stable.
Cambridge police detective Bill Crowe said an alert for the disgraced jockey had now been placed with Customs and he would be arrested should he return to New Zealand. Inquiries would also be made with Interpol. Bryan McKenzie, a Waikato-based investigator with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), said he was liaising with police, Immigration and the TAB over Yusof and his recent whereabouts.
In August Yusof returned a positive test to methamphetamine and was banned from riding for nine months.
He had been a promising jockey, riding 12 winners last season after a break of two years, but McKenzie said he had previously been suspended from racing for misconduct, relating to two separate assaults on stablehands.
"He certainly didn't enjoy a good reputation among the racing fraternity and the New Zealand racing industry is well rid of him," McKenzie said.
Cropp, who refused to comment, is no stranger to controversy herself, after fighting a four-year battle over her positive drug test.
She was disqualified from riding for nine months in June, fined $7500 and ordered to pay $92,000 in costs. But she has failed to respond to demands for payment of the money and has been placed on racing's unpaid forfeit list, which is a register of people disqualified from all racing codes here and overseas. NZTR is seeking repayment of the money through civil action.
Cropp rode about 430 winners between testing positive in May 2005 to methamphetamine and being banned in June. She earned $947,748 in riding percentages from the day she tested positive.
The incident with Yusof comes just weeks after the Matamata equine community was rocked by the violent death of 42-year-old Helen Meads, who was shot dead on her property in late September.
Her husband, well-known horse breeder Greg Meads, has been charged with her murder.