Day At The Track

Waller-trained horse returns ice positive

06:43 PM 11 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Trainer Chris Waller
Trainer Chris Waller
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On the day where he is receiving accolades for his mare Winx being named as the world's best turf horse for 2016, champion trainer Chris Waller has been rocked by the news one of his horses returned a positive swab to methamphetamine.

Fairfax Media reported on Friday that an initial test from an unnamed maiden horse in Waller's stable returned a positive result to methamphetamine, known as the recreational drug ice, which is an illegal stimulant.

Methamphetamine is a prohibited substance under the Australian Rules of Racing.

If the horse returns a positive from a second sample then Racing NSW stewards would open an official inquiry.

Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel would not confirm the report.

"We have a steadfast policy that we will not make any comment to the media until we have a confirmation of a positive result," Van Gestel told Racing.com.

Fairfax Media believes that an investigation has been opened regarding all Waller stable staff being drug tested.

"We are working through the possibility of a positive sample to ice from one of our horses," Waller told Fairfax.

"It is an issue we want to get on the front foot with and we have tested our staff to try and find how this happened.

"We want to work out where the contamination has come from and whether it was from one of our staff or an outside influence.

"We are still waiting on a lot of information and we are helping stewards with their investigation.

"As much as I'm concerned with this issue, I'm equally concerned for any person who has an issue with this drug and would want to help them as well."

Waller is considered Australia's leading trainer, using his base at Rosehill in Sydney to win many of Australia's feature races over the past eight years, including the past two Cox Plates with champion mare Winx.

This is not the first time that the trainer has had a horse return a positive swab to a prohibited substance.

In April 2013 Racing NSW stewards investigated Waller after three of his horses returned positive swabs to ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment that is prohibited in racing, but no conviction was recorded after it was determined that the source of the positive was feed contamination.

Ballarat Cup winner Junoob was disqualified after winning the Group 1 Metropolitan at Randwick in 2014 for returning a positive sample to the diuretic Frusemide - which is known world-wide as anti-bleeding drug Lasix - with Waller receiving a $30,000 fine.

While admitting to using Frusamide in his stable, Waller informed stewards that the drug had been mistakenly given to Junoob by a stable employee.

Although rare, there have been methamphetamine positives in thoroughbred racing in Australia.

Mornington-based trainer Matt Laurie's Shockaholic returned a positive to methamphetamine after winning a maiden at Echuca on April 24, 2015 and was subsequently disqualified.

However, Laurie avoided a penalty after it had been discovered that a member of his stable staff had been using the drug.

It was deemed that the methamphetamine positive was caused by accidental contamination and that the positive recorded was so small that it would not have affected the performance of Shockaholic.

No conviction was recorded against Laurie.

Also in 2015, NSW-trainer Luke Griffith was disqualified for four years after positives to methamphetamine were recorded from three horses in his care.

Fellow NSW-based trainer John McNair, well known as the trainer of champion sprinter Hay List, was fined $15,000 for a lack of stable security after his horse Normandy tested positive to amphetamine and methylamphetamine.

However, stewards found that McNair had no knowledge of the administration of the drug and that an external party had approached the horse.

There have also been positive swabs to the drug returned in greyhound racing and harness racing.

By Shane Anderson

Reprinted with permission of the racing.com site

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