THE New South Wales Crime Commission and the Australian Jockey Club have opened wide-ranging investigations into allegations of race-fixing. And the first casualty of the probe came yesterday when former Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, Jim Cassidy, was banned for six months for failing to appear before the inquiry panel. It is claimed race-fixing has been rife in New South Wales with suggestions that jockeys in South Australia and Queensland have also been involved. After weeks of rumours, the allegations surfaced for the first time, officially, yesterday with the suspension of Sydney-based Cassidy who booted New Zealand raider Kiwi to victory in the 1983 Melbourne Cup. The AJC was advised, by senior representatives of the Crime Commission, of information gathered on tapes of telephone conversations recorded by Federal Police during the course of a drug investigation of a leading Sydney identity, who is now in custody. The tapes - 4,000 hours of them - were subsequently handed to the Crime Commission. Transcripts of the calls which the Sydney Morning Herald had obtained reportedly revealed that alleged conspirators in drug dealings had bribed jockeys in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, but mainly in New South Wales capital. Two current senior Sydney jockeys 'participated in race fixing with an alleged drug boss who is now in prison awaiting trial for drug importation', the report said. But it still remains unclear whether Cassidy was one of the jockeys mentioned in the transcripts or was simply summoned before investigators to provide additional information for the panel. The jockeys mentioned on the tapes were said to have been involved in getting syndicate members to place bets on mounts they were riding in an almost daily breach of the AJC's rules of racing. The tapes indicated the race-fixing occurred during major meetings, often in several races on a single programme, in which horses were impaired from running on their merits, a clear breach of the AJC Rules of Racing. A total of 12 jockeys are believed to have been 'mentioned' on the tapes but some reports suggest there may be only 10 involved. The revelations led to a crisis meeting of the AJC committee less than 24 hours before today's running of the A$2 million Golden Slipper Stakes - the world's richest two-year-old race - at Rosehill. Even though Cassidy has been banned for six months, he will be able to ride in today's showcase meeting under a stay of proceedings pending an appeal. As the scandal became officially public, the AJC's chief steward John Schreck was immediately commissioned to head up a far reaching inquiry which led to Cassidy's suspension. Although the information gathered by the Federal Police had become common knowledge, the AJC had been kept very much in the dark until yesterday. The AJC's chief executive John Rouse assured punters that they could bet confidently on today's premier Golden Slipper meeting at Rosehill and others being held throughout New South Wales. 'We have stewards of the highest quality and they do everything possible to ensure racing in this State is run cleanly and honestly,' Rouse said. Rouse said that he wanted to 'remind everyone' that the suggestions of race fixing were still only allegations. 'Nothing has been proven and no [race fixing] charges have been laid as yet.' Rouse said he hopes to be able to make a statement on behalf of the AJC, 'in a couple of days'. New South Wales Police Minister Paul Whelan said after a meeting with Police Commissioner Tony Lauer that he had asked Lauer to expedite police investigations and asked Crime Commissioner Philip Bradley to provide advice to the AJC committee. Neither Whelan nor Lauer would comment on the nature of the Crime Commission's investigation. But Whelan did say the allegations held grave implications for Australian racing, adding: 'The very story places the integrity of racing in this state and indeed in this nation in question. 'It's absolutely essential that the public have confidence in the way racing and sporting events are conducted.' Lauer said the state investigation had been underway since December but the Crime Commission was notified only a month ago when it reached a stage where the government body's special powers were necessary to further the investigation. 'It's a recognition by the Police Service that the traditional methods of investigation need enhancement to proceed to a satisfactory conclusion and that's why we've approached the Crime Commission,' Lauer said.