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A deadly venom found in sea snails which can paralyse fish within a second has emerged as the latest chemical suspected to have infiltrated horse racing, with authorities scrambling to organise testing for the powerful painkiller. Racing NSW and Racing Victoria integrity officials on Monday confirmed they had started screening for the mystery drug, which has subtypes known to be infinitely stronger than morphine. It can also be extracted to be used for therapeutic purposes on humans in the form of the conotoxin-based Prialt. Racing stewards have received intelligence that a form of sea snail venom has been imported into Australia and used to manage pain in horses suspected to have raced in both the thoroughbred and harness codes. It is unclear in which state the latest fad is said to have emerged, but the Herald understands multiple racing authorities have been tipped off about its use and developed laboratory testing to weed out those who have dabbled in the product. The substance is not entirely new to the industry and was understood to have been in use more than decade ago, but until recently had not again been on the radar of racing officials. It's understood to dissolve from a horse's system very quickly and can help numb any pain before heading to the racetrack. Sea snails are generally found in the bottom of the ocean in tropical climates. Racing NSW said it had the ability to retrospectively test stored samples for the substance. It hasn't yet confirmed any positive swabs stemming from the chemical. "When we get information we act on it and we have a screen for this drug now," Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys. "At the moment it is not a part of the normal screening process, but we have the ability to target it and test for it." RV executive general manager of integrity Jamie Stier confirmed his organisation had begun testing for the drug as part of its normal screening process. Australian scientists from several universities have previously been working on developing new pain relief drugs using the chemicals from sea snail venom, which can be administered when morphine is no longer sufficient. It has traditionally been hazardous to use on humans given the bad side effects it can induce, including hallucinations, memory loss and confusion. But it is seen as a future alternative for pain relief given it is thought to be less addictive than opioid-based painkillers. Researchers are hoping with more funding for trials conotoxins could be in clinical use within 10 years. Venomous sea snails have been known to kill the nervous system of fish almost instantly before they eat their prey. The suspected infiltration of the chemical into horse racing is the latest scourge for the industry, which earlier this year was rocked by the ban to Australia's most prolific thoroughbred trainer Darren Weir for possession of electrical shock devices. Victorian-based Weir was rubbed out for four years and is still the subject of an ongoing police investigation. Racing NSW stewards are also investigating the finding of human growth hormone (EPO) in a fridge at the property of Kembla Grange trainer Mick Tubman. He has been stood down from training. NSW Police have also charged a nurse from Wollongong Hospital with the alleged theft of EPO from the hospital. By Adam Pengilly and Chris Roots Reprinted with permission of the Sydney Morning Herald   SEA SNAIL VENOM - Sea snail venom contains hundreds of peptides known as conotoxins, which are used to cause paralysis or death. The chemical allows the venomous snails, who are carnivorous, to prey on animals as large as fish. - When used in humans, the chemical produces an analgesic effect by stopping the transmission of nerve signals. - Only one conotoxin-based painkiller, Prialt, is currently on the market, and can only be injected into the spinal cord. The drug also has multiple side effects such as hallucinations, memory loss and confusion, limiting its use. - Multiple groups of Australian scientists are currently working on a safe, oral version of the drug for humans, with recent breakthroughs set to reduce the nation’s reliance on addictive painkillers. - In 2010, Australian scientists injected venom from the cone snail to a group of laboratory rats which resulted in a reduction in pain "100 to 500" times more effective than commonly used pain relievers such as morphine or gabapentin. Lead researcher of the study David Craik says one of the biggest advantages is that the drug uses "different receptors" in the brain in comparison to highly-addictive opioids such as morphine. Sarah Keoghan

Bagdad harness racing trainer Paul Williams has been fined $3000 over a positive swab returned by his horse Chasing Cheetahs at Devonport three months ago. A urine sample taken from Chasing Cheetahs, who finished fourth in the C2/C3 Pace on March 8, contained arsenic levels above the allowable threshold. Williams pleaded guilty to presenting the horse to race when not free of all prohibited substances. Stewards suspended half the fine on condition the trainer does not offend again in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, an unnamed harness racing participant has been fined $1500 over an incident at the Mowbray race meeting on May 3. The participant pleaded guilty to "acting in a manner detrimental to the industry" by deliberately causing damage to another participant's vehicle. Half the fine was suspended on condition there is no further offending in the next 12 months. Stewards refused to name the person involved as they said the incident was related to a on-going court case. Harness racing returns to Devonport on Friday night with two heats of the Raider Stakes and a prelude to the Granny Smith Stakes. Greg Mansfield Reprinted with permission of The Advocate

In response to questions received from the industry, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) wishes to clarify that routine diagnostic veterinary examinations of race horses are allowed within the 24-hour period prior to racing provided no medications, drugs or substances are administered. Info Bulletin No. 70 – Ban on Race Day Medication: Introduction of a Standards-Based Rule March 29, 2019 The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is implementing a ban on race day medications as of April 19, 2019 that will prohibit the administration of medications, drugs and substances to any horse entered to race starting 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  For Standardbred horses, this includes Qualifying Races. This standards-based rule is critical to protecting horses, participants, the betting public and the integrity of racing as a whole. The rule changes, which include prohibiting contact between horses entered to race and veterinarians in the 24 hours prior to racing, except in cases of emergency, can be found in the Directives: Standardbred | Thoroughbred POLICY STATEMENT It is in the best interest of the horse, the human participants, the betting public and the public at large that horses race free of medications (other than Furosemide when properly enrolled in the Ontario Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (E.I.P.H.) Program). THE ISSUE Medications administered within 24 hours of a race have resulted in adverse health outcomes of race horses.  Medications administered on race day have the potential to mask physical or behavioural problems in a horse and/or to alter the performance of a horse. These administrations can pose a risk to the health of the horse and participants while warming up or racing. The betting public and the public at large are unaware of the specifics of these administrations.  This standards-based rule aligns Ontario more closely with other major racing jurisdictions in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.  For example, in the United States, 28 out of the 33 states with pari-mutuel betting have implemented a ban on race day medications.   IMPLICATIONS The new standards-based rule will enhance the health and safety of the horse, the safety of the participants during the warming up of the horse and in the actual running of the race. The standards-based rule defines the timeframe of the ban as being 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.  This rule is not intended to prohibit normal non-medicated feedstuffs, water and non-medicated shampoos and non-medicated topical applications.  IMPLEMENTATION The AGCO will implement the standards-based rule through the following communications with the horse racing industry:    An educational component, consisting of Industry Notice Reminders and Information Bulletins; Paddock meetings; and/or Training sessions for trainers and grooms at each track, led by AGCO Race Officials and Commission Veterinarians. Race Line newsletter articles Twitter posts Website updates For more information, on-duty Race Officials may be contacted at: https://www.agco.ca/race-day-contact-list Questions about this process may be directed to AGCO Race Officials. CONTACT US Online: Anytime via the iAGCO online portal By mail and in person: Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario 90 Sheppard Avenue East Suite 200-300 Toronto, Ontario M2N 0A4 By telephone: Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) General telephone: 416-326-8700 Toll free in Ontario: 1-800-522-2876  

With the Kentucky Derby coming up this weekend, horse racing is making its annual pilgrimage to the front page, as millions of people place bets and make plans for the big day. The excitement, the grandeur, and the tradition of one of America’s oldest sports captivate many into watching the buildup to what is essentially a two-minute race.  But the excitement doesn’t come without controversy. Horse racing still has a ways to go in terms of improving its reputation of drugging horses. In states without bans, horses are often drugged right before the race, which can increase the chances of animals getting hurt. Injuries often lead to horses being euthanized.  Thoroughbred horse racing is the biggest offender. Known for their speed, Thoroughbred horses run in the Kentucky Derby, as well as other well-known races. The Thoroughbred industry has been mired with controversy due to the use of Lasix, a drug that helps horses avoid nosebleeds caused by hemorrhaging during intense physical activity, allowing them to run faster for longer. But after 23 horses broke down and were euthanized over the course of three months at Santa Anita Park in California, all high-stakes Thoroughbred races agreed to phase out Lasix by 2021.  Standardbred horse racing, or harness racing, is less lucrative than Thoroughbred racing, but still draws a crowd at places such as The Meadows race track in Washington County, as well as other race tracks in Pennsylvania. This type of racing requires the horse trot instead of full-out run, all while pulling a small cart with a driver. Standardbred is not without doping, but the offenses aren’t as numerous compared to Thoroughbred racing. A bill in the U.S. House hopes to change some of that culture, but it has so far failed to get the support of most of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation and the state’s biggest race organization, Penn National Gaming, which owns race tracks and casinos across the country and in Pennsylvania, including The Meadows and Penn National Race Course. Advocates of the bill say the support of Pennsylvania is crucial to make into law, but will it gain enough support in the Keystone State?  Pennsylvania isn’t usually considered a major horse racing hub like Kentucky or New York, but Marty Irby of Washington, D.C.-based Animal Wellness Action says Pennsylvania is in the top 10 of horse racing states. There are six racing tracks in the commonwealth that hold Thoroughbred and Standardbred races, and some with some sizable purses. Irby says Pennsylvania isn’t the worst offender when it comes to animal welfare issues, like drugging horses on race day, but it’s not a shining example either.  “Pennsylvania isn’t the worst, but it is really at the bottom at the barrel,” says Kirby. “You don’t have a presence there that seems to be willing to crack down on the abuses.” According to horse racing news site Paulick Report, Pennsylvania hasn’t integrated the Association of Racing Commissioners International penalty system, which calls for long suspensions and harsh fines of up to $50,000 for repeat drug offenses. Instead, Pennsylvania offenders typically just have races disqualified and sometimes fines as low as $500.  Irby says problems in Pennsylvania are common in other states. With 38 different racing consortiums in the U.S., it is hard to get commissioners to agree on standard rules for drug testing. That’s why Irby is advocating for the Horseracing Integrity Act, a bill in Congress to create national rules pertaining to the horse racing industry, including standardized drug testing and creating a ban on race-day drugging.  The co-authors of the act are U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-New York) and Andy Barr (R-Kentucky), and both represent districts with a large horse racing presence. The bill so far has gathered 50 co-sponsors, with only two from Pennsylvania, U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) and Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery). Race organizations like the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes are backing the bill, too.  Irby says for the bill to have a chance, more members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation and Penn National Gaming need to lend support. Irby says since support for animal welfare is popular among Pennsylvania politicians, he expects more representatives to co-sponsor the bill.  U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills), Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters) all have records of supporting animal rights bills, but have yet to co-sponsor the Horseracing Integrity Act. A request for comment to Penn National Gaming was not returned.  In the end, Irby believes the bill isn’t just about the health of race horses. He thinks the bill will give confidence to horse racing fans that the sport is clean, and thus could boost its viewership.  “This is not a heavy lift for anyone at any track in America to support." By Ryan Deto Reprinted with permission of the pghcitypaper

The 2018 Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Program conducted by US racing regulatory bodies found continued substantial compliance with racing’s medication and anti-doping rules and little support for claims that the use of drugs to mask pain when horses race is rampant. As it does each year the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) released a summary of the collective results of the individual state programs conducted in 2018. In 2018 horses competing in 95,618 individual races were tested, 43,574 flat races (quarter horse and thoroughbred combined) and 52,044 standardbred races. This represents a reduction from the previous year when horses from 98,883 races were tested. On average 3.2 horses were tested in each flat race and 2.26 horses tested in each standardbred contest. In 2018, there were 1,561 violations of the medication rules out of 258,920 samples tested, meaning that 99.4% of all tests found the horse to be compliant with the rules. It also means that the facts do not support claims that a substantial number of horses are racing under the influence of pain masking medications as all testing labs routinely screen for the presence of such drugs. Such instances do occasionally occur and are reflected in the violations that are found and prosecuted. The ARCI has described violations involving Class 1 or Class 2 substances as instances of “doping”. Violations involving substances of a lesser class often involve overages of medications deemed therapeutic or authorized by US federal law for veterinary use. There was a dramatic drop in doping instances from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, 11% of all violations found were for Class 1 or 2 substances. In 2018, that number dropped to 6.8% of all violations. In 2018, there were 107 findings out of 258,920 samples tested for these substances deemed to have the greatest effect on performance, or 0.04% of all samples tested. In 2017, there were 169 findings out of 293,704 samples, or 0.06% of those tested. Violations involving Class 3 substances were 26.2% of all adverse analytical findings in 2018, a slight increase over the 24.5% detected in 2017. There were 409 Class 3 AAF’s in 2018 - 0.16% of all tested - compared to 376 in 2017 - 0.13% tested. Violations involving substances deemed least likely to affect performance - Class 4 and 5 substances - accounted for 66.9% of the adverse analytical findings in 2018, slightly up from the 64.5% of AAF’s in 2017. Clear Rate: In 2018, 99.4% of all samples tested were determined to be clear of any substance that would trigger an adverse analytical finding (AAF). In 2017, the clear rate for all US horse racing was 99.5%. For Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races, the clear rate in 2018 was 99.13% and the rate for Standardbred races that year was 99.71%. By comparison, the 2017 Annual Report of the US Anti Doping Agency indicates that their clear rate for human sport was 99.12% for Olympic, Paralympic and Global Service Testing. The 2019 World Anti-Doping Agency’s Testing Report shows that their “clear rate” is 98.57%. “Horse racing and human sport share the same challenges in combatting those who cheat. While the overall clear rate is comparable, I do not believe anyone is under the illusion in either human sport or horse racing that we are catching everyone who will attempt to cheat,” said Ed Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International. “Industry investments in anti-doping research and a greater emphasis on expanded investigatory staff at the regulatory agencies and racetracks is essential if we are to effectively combat this threat,” he said. Rebecca Shoemaker Assistant to the President & CEO Association of Racing Commissioners International

Exercise-induced Pulmonary Hemorrage (EIPH) has been a recognized condition in horses since the early 18 century. While the amount of bleeding in horses varies, it is universally recognized that the vast majority of horses in training and racing do indeed bleed. The advent of the flexible endoscope confirmed in studies that in thoroughbreds the stress put upon them, proved that up to 75 per cent of them bleed in training and more so in racing. Other studies done on standardbred and thoroughbreds, after running three races, showed that 100 per cent of these horses bled at least once, evidenced by blood in the trachea. The cause of the bleeding is the amount of pressure experienced that racing puts on the pulmonary veins, four times the normal pressure. The pressure causes fibrosis and in turn Pulmonary fibrosis scars and thickens the tissue around and between the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, which decreases the lungs ability to function and decreases the racing life of the horse. I have attended multiple-day seminars with experts from all over the globe on the topic of the race day administration of Lasix. In North America, Lasix is the most popular medication for treating EIPH because studies have shown that it is the most effective treatment in decreasing the amount of bleeding and therefore the scarring and thickening of the tissue around the lungs. In many of the English speaking countries around the world conducting racing, where race day use of Lasix is prohibited, it is nonetheless permitted up to race day because it is acknowledged to have the desired therapeutic effects in controlling EIPH. One has to ask if it is recognized as necessary in training because of its control of this problem, when the stress is not as severe as when a horse competes in a race, then what is the rationale for withholding it on race day, where four times the normal pressure in the racing environment exists? It has been said that when our horses, mainly thoroughbreds, go overseas they compete quite well without Lasix. That is indeed true, perhaps because they have a least had the benefit of controlling pulmonary hemorrhage long enough to achieve success over their foreign competitors. Overseas competition is against horses that are using something far less efficacious than Lasix, or worse nothing at all, to address the long term effects occasioned by the increased stress in racing. Those who want to join the community of Lasix-free racing point to the alleged masking of other substances, but the controlled administration of the substance; the hourly limitation on its use pre-race( 4-4 1/2 hours); the testing for threshold overages of the substance, has put that argument to bed. Now the newest mantra for the elimination of race-day Lasix, is the horrible, horrible loss of life at Santa Anita Racetrack. The false claim being, that while the rest of North America continues to help the horse racing on Lasix, without nay correlation to catastrophes, Lasix is being inexplicably blamed as the proximate cause of those catastrophes. The problem, is the potential for the elimination of a recognized effective tool in controlling and minimizing, EIPH that helps the horse cope with the effects of stress. Santa Anita should be shut down immediately until the true causes of these catastrophes can be accurately determined and corrected. The factors point initially to the track’s surface and under-footing, but the more precise answer must be determined by analyzing all of the multiple possible factors, Lasix, being clearly not the culprit. Without closing down Santa Anita immediately, the industry, thoroughbred and standardbred alike, comes under tremendous pressure from all those looking to eliminate the industry anyway. Santa Anita is providing fuel to a fire that threatens the game, by racing more in the face of its undetermined cause of these catastrophic breakdowns. Allowing continued suffering at Santa Anita is intolerable and unacceptable and should not continue. Enough is enough and if one is looking to blame Lasix, it is suggested that one look elsewhere. Every industry organization needs to be heard on any and every false narrative out there. No benefit can be achieved by being silent on issues that threaten our existence. Joe Faraldo

HARNESS Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards conducted an inquiry on Monday February 4, 2019, in relation to a report from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that cocaine was detected in the urine sample taken from MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ following its win in Race 5, the NAVAL ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA PACE (2125m) at Penrith on Thursday October 18, 2018. The ‘B’ sample was confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Licensed trainer Mr Richard Baverstock and stablehand Mr Adam Baverstock appeared at the inquiry. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis were presented and HRNSW Regulatory Veterinarian Dr Martin Wainscott also presented evidence to the inquiry. HRNSW Stewards issued the following charge against Mr Richard Baverstock pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190 (1), (2), (3) & (4) as follows: AHRR 190.  (1)  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. (2)  If a horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1) the trainer of the horse is guilty of an offence. (3)  If a person is left in charge of a horse and the horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1), the trainer of the horse and the person left in charge is each guilty of an offence. (4)  An offence under sub rule (2) or sub rule (3) is committed regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse. Mr Richard Baverstock was found guilty and disqualified for a period of two years and six months commencing from December 21, 2018, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Richard Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; Class 1 Prohibited Substance; The seriousness of the offence; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Richard Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Richard Baverstock’s not guilty plea. Acting under the provisions of AHRR 195, MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Mr Richard Baverstock was advised of his right to appeal. HRNSW Stewards issued a charge against Mr Adam Baverstock pursuant to AHRR 190(1), (3) & (4) in relation to the results of the urine sample obtained from MY WHISKEY LULLABY NZ. Mr Adam Baverstock was found guilty and disqualified for three years nine months to commence from January 22, 2019, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering that penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Adam Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; Class 1 Prohibited Substance; The seriousness of the offence; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Adam Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Adam Baverstock’s not guilty plea. In addition, HRNSW Stewards issued a charge against Mr Adam Baverstock pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 250A(1)(a) as follows: 250A.  (1)  A person carrying on or purporting to carry on an activity regulated by licence at any time or carrying on official duties at a meeting commits an offence if: (a)  a sample taken from him or her is found upon analysis to contain a substance banned by Rule 251A. That charge related to a urine sample taken from Mr Adam Baverstock on Monday December 17, 2018. A report from Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) certified the presence of the cocaine metabolites Ecgonine Methylester and Benzoylecgonine. The ‘B’ sample was confirmed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia. In relation to that charge, Mr Adam Baverstock was suspended for a period of six months to commence from January 22, 2019, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering that penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Adam Baverstock’s involvement in the harness racing industry, his licence history and offence record; The seriousness of the offence; The prohibited substances involved; No previous prohibited substance matters; Mr Adam Baverstock’s personal subjective facts; Mr Adam Baverstock’s not guilty plea. The Stewards ordered that the penalties imposed upon Mr Adam Baverstock are to be served concurrently. Mr Adam Baverstock was advised of his right to appeal.     Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. HRNSW INTEGRITY CONTACTS: MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  mprentice@hrnsw.com.au GRANT ADAMS | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •  gadams@hrnsw.com.au

Betting anomalies have been identified and police say more arrests are possible as the probe into alleged corruption in New Zealand harness racing widens to the Auckland region. Thirteen harness racing figures have so far appeared in court after being caught up in the 18-month Operation Inca race-fixing investigation by the National Organised Crime Group. Many of the racing identities cannot be named for legal reasons and have denied match-fixing and other charges. They are awaiting a High Court hearing in February for name suppression to be argued. The charges came after raids on multiple stables and properties in Canterbury, Invercargill and Manawatu in September. Today, police revealed investigators from the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) and detectives from the National Organised Crime Group have this week conducted further enquiries in the Auckland region. "A number of people have been interviewed as part of this week's enquiries, and betting anomalies have been identified in at least one race in May 2018," a police statement said. "The RIU is considering charges relating to the breach of rules around driver betting in relation to these anomalies. "Further arrests and charges by police are also possible." Christchurch District Court heard on Wednesday that a male driver in his 50s has been charged with conspiring with another person to manipulate a race result earlier this year by "administering a substance" to a horse before the race "in order to gain a pecuniary advantage, namely the winning stakes". Defence lawyer Phil Shamy said the man denied the charge and would elect trial by jury. Judge Raoul Neave granted him interim name suppression which will be reviewed when he comes back to court – along with others charged over Operation Inca – on March 25 next year. North Canterbury trainer Andrew Douglas Stuart, 42, who has previously entered not guilty pleas to three race-fixing allegations, faces a fourth fixing charge. It's alleged that with another man he "manipulated the overall result" of a race earlier this year by deception and without claim of right. A 40-year-old Canterbury man who denies three race-fixing charges and who is yet to enter pleas on two unrelated drugs charges had another drugs charge laid this week. Graham Henry Beirne, a 71-year-old Christchurch man, previously denied two race fixing charges, and faces a third charge. Defence counsel Richard Raymond QC asked for no plea to be entered on the new charge, and Judge Neave remanded him until March 25. Three other men – aged 50, 35 and 26 – deny race-fixing allegations, as does Palmerston North man Brent Stephen Wall, 47, and 44-year-old Rolleston-based horse trainer Nigel Raymond McGrath. Others face drugs charges that their lawyers say is unconnected to the horse racing investigation, including Elie Sawma, a 42-year-old Christchurch hairdresser charged with supplying the Class B controlled drug MDMA, possession of MDMA, and offering to supply the Class A drug cocaine. Another accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is yet to enter pleas. Some of the accused were remanded by Judge Raoul Neave to a Crown case review hearing on March 25 next year, while others will be back in court on January 29. By: Kurt Bayer NZ Herald reporter based in Christchurch   Reprinted with permission of The New Zealand Herald

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today considered a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1) against licensed trainer Kylie Hughes. ARHR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under AHRR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Ms Hughes related to a post-race urine sample collected from the horse ‘Nevada Rocket’ after it won Race 2, the ‘Mildura Holden Pace’, at Mildura on 22 February 2017. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain a prohibited substance, namely cobalt, at a concentration greater than 200 µg/L. This result was confirmed by the Racing Science Centre in Brisbane. The HRV RAD Board considered the statements of Investigative Steward Neal Conder, RASL Scientific Manager Paul Zahra and veterinary consultant Professor Paul Mills. Ms Hughes pleaded guilty to the charge, before the HRV RAD Board heard submissions on penalty from both parties. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered Ms Hughes’ 25- year involvement in the industry, her good record over this period of time, and her guilty plea. Also considered were the circumstances of a partially concurrent Harness Racing New South Wales matter that led to this inquiry being adjourned on 28 September 2017, and resulted in Ms Hughes being disqualified between 20 April 2017 and 3 September 2019. The Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board (RADB) is established under section 50B of the Racing Act (1958). The RADB is an independent Board established to hear and determine appeals in relation to decisions made under the rules to impose penalties on persons and to hear and determine charges made against persons for serious offences. In handing down its penalty, the HRV RAD Board highlighted the significance of the rules in relation to prohibited substances in harness racing, the importance of conducting races fairly and with integrity, along with the protection of horses and the participants involved in the industry. In considering all of these matters, the HRV RAD Board imposed a 12-month disqualification. It was ordered that the disqualification be backdated to commence on 28 September 2017, the date of the original hearing, and be served concurrently with the HRNSW penalty. The HRV RAD Board also ordered that ‘Nevada Rocket’ be disqualified from Race 2 at Mildura on 22 February 2017 and that the placings be amended accordingly. HRV RAD Board Panel: Judge Graeme Hicks and Rod Osborne.   Harness Racing Victoria  

Twelve new charges alleging race fixing – including the drugging of a horse – have been laid in the police's investigation into the harness racing scene. A North Canterbury man in his 50s, a driver, appeared at the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday for the first time as part of the expanding investigation, dubbed Operation Inca.  He faced one race fixing charge, alleging that a substance was administered to a horse to gain an advantageat a race meeting earlier this year. He is charged with conspiring with one of the other defendants to fix the race. His court appearance at a review session before Judge Raoul Neave brings the total number of people caught up in the investigation to 13. Read the full story at Stuff.   David Clarkson for Stuff 

Columbus, OH - In May 2018, through the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors Medication Subcommittee, the USTA established the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative to develop reliable, consistent medication regulations for application specifically to harness racing. On Wednesday (Nov. 28), the HRMC distributed usage recommendations supported with position papers for thresholds and withdrawal times on two therapeutic medications, clenbuterol and betamethasone, to 16 state regulatory agencies. "The HRMC will close a gap in the science and policy underlying Standardbred medication regulation," said USTA President Russell Williams in making the announcement last May. "Our primary goal is to improve the quality of medication information available to our regulators." HRMC brings together a distinguished panel of academic, practicing, and regulatory veterinarians who are conversant with pharmacological and pharmacokinetic scientific studies, veterinary practice norms, and relevant regulatory issues. The USTA plans to provide the HRMC's reports and supporting data to regulators in the various racing commissions as well as the Association of Racing Commissioners International for their consideration in establishing medication rules. The state agencies that have been sent HRMC recommendations on the two therapeutic medications are: California Horse Racing Board, Delaware Harness Racing Commission, Indiana Horse Racing Commission, Maine State Racing Commission, Maryland Racing Commission, Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Michigan Gaming Control Board, Minnesota Racing Commission, New Jersey Racing Commission, New York State Gaming Commission, Ohio State Racing Commission, Pennsylvania Bureau of Standardbred Horse Racing, Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Illinois Racing Board, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Virginia Racing Commission. At their regular monthly meeting last week on Wednesday (Nov. 28), the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission indicated that they will consider the HRMC recommendations at their next public meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 18). Some regulators have been referring to the Controlled Therapeutic Substances (CTS) list maintained by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and applying CTS guidelines on withdrawal times, route of administration, dosage, and threshold levels to harness racing. But the CTS list was developed for application to Thoroughbred racing, and harness racing's vastly different racing and training models require certain differences in the CTS list specifications. In addition, the CTS list has met criticism in some scientific circles for referencing confidential, unpublished data, inaccurate thresholds (resulting in undeserved infractions), disregard of clinical practice realities (such as intra-articular dosages allowing for treatment of only one knee or hock), and inappropriate statistical application (such as the 95:95 threshold, which puts as many as 1 in 20 appropriately-treated horses at risk of a threshold violation). Despite the USTA's years of effort, these concerns have not been adequately addressed. The Harness Racing Medication Collaborative consists of the following veterinarians who have expertise in the Standardbred racehorse: Dr. Marty Allen, Dr. Richard Balmer, Dr. Clara Fenger, Dr. Peter Kanter, Dr. Brian MacNamara, Dr. George Maylin, Dr. Kenneth McKeever, Dr. Andy Roberts, Dr. James Robertson, and Dr. Thomas Tobin. The members of the USTA Medication Subcommittee are: Joe Faraldo (Chairperson); Sam Beegle, Robert Boni, John Brennan, Mark Davis, Joe Frasure, Mark Loewe, Steve O'Toole, Brett Revington, Andrew M. Roberts DVM, and USTA President Russell Williams. Where appropriate and necessary, HRMC will also conduct or help support new research pertinent to harness racing. from the USTA Communications Department

A quintet of Ohio-based, practicing racetrack veterinarians provided the Ohio State Racing Commission members with their thoughts on out of competition testing at the OSRC's monthly meeting, Nov. 29, in Columbus. The veterinarians-who between them have over 150 years of experience-included: Dr. John Piehowicz, Cincinnati (Thoroughbreds/Standardbreds); Dr. John Reichert, Grove City (Standardbreds); Dr. Barry Carter, Lancaster, (Standardbreds); Dr. Dan Wilson, Cleveland, (Standardbreds); and Dr. Scott Shell, Cleveland (Thoroughbreds). All five veterinarians agreed that clients in their respective practices were in favor of out of competition in the Buckeye State. "We need to establish a simple process, whereas a public training center or private farm would be able to be easily licensed by the OSRC," Dr. Barry Carter stated. "By being licensed, it would allow the OSRC to walk onto a property at any time and test and/or examine any racehorse. "The race secretaries would only accept horses from licensed facilities," Dr. Carter added. "And the licensing fees should be nominal, so everyone would be encouraged to get licensed." "My major concern is, what will we test for?" said Dr. Dan Wilson. "The RCI protocol is currently burdensome and we need to narrow the focus of testing and test for street designer drugs such as neuro-toxins, blood doping agents and venoms. "Also, we'll have to deal with horses coming in from neighboring states such as Michigan and New York. At Northfield we have a ton of horses coming from these areas every night and have anywhere from 640 to 740 horses stabled on the grounds." "Out of competition testing will eliminate the 'shooting star' trainers, as well as the gossip and innuendoes that are a backstretch constant," Dr. John Piehowicz acknowledged. "Out of competition testing also serves as a strong deterrent to those few bad apples we have in the racing industry. "Racing is a privilege, just like driving, and protocol will need to be set well in advance," Dr. Piehowicz continued. "We're going to need to establish who does the testing? What criteria is that person going to have to be authorized to test horses? What about out of state competitors? How do we handle them? We're going to have to work closely in cooperation with surrounding states. "The penalties need to be stiff too-ten or 15-year suspensions or a life ban for medications that are injurious to the welfare of the horse," Dr. Piehowicz stressed. "This year at Belterra Park we had 900 horses on the grounds and 30 to 40% of those on race day are ship-ins, so a slap on the wrist for a drug that has no business being in a horse's system isn't appropriate." "I'm firmly in favor of out of competition testing but the RCI model as it currently stands is just way too large," said Dr. Scott Shell. "There are drugs out there right now that have no business being in a horse: venoms, toxics and blood-doping agents like synthetic EPO. However, there are a lot of drugs on the RCI list that we use as healing agents and we need to narrow the scope to those harmful agents. "Out of competition testing will also help to eliminate excess testing expenses," Dr. Shell continued. "In order for me to keep my veterinarian license, I'm required to be accountable for every drop of medication that goes into every horse and when and where I performed that service. Therefore, a trainer needs to be able to produce a vet record of his or her horses so that regulators have a clear idea of what is therapeutic and what isn't. "For instance, anabolic steroids are a controlled substance that we, as veterinarians, use therapeutically, and we need to establish the difference between when medications are used therapeutically and when they are not." "Out of competition testing has become a necessity," Dr. John Reichert admitted. "The majority of trainers are operating within the rules, but because of the few bad apples we need out of competition testing and we need to establish accurate testing. I'm talking about agents that have long term effects on a horse's system: blood doping, venoms, etc. We need an effective narrow scope of testing, and the accuracy of testing is paramount to establishing severe penalties for the cheaters. "We also need to think about legal concerns," Dr. Reichert continued. "For instance, do we do random testing, or do we pick the obvious cheaters? There's not many trainers who operate on a 400 to 600-win average. But we're also going to have to think about horses that throw in bad races for reasons such as flipped-palates and tying up, and then dramatically improve when in the hands of a new trainer who can help alleviate those issues. "I also think that logistically we'll have to figure out how we're going to cooperate amongst the other states who already have out of competition testing in place," Dr. Reichert noted. "For instance, different states have different testing procedures. Are we going to test the horses in the state they're currently in or do we bring them to a central location? The manpower to do the testing has to be credentialed and capable as well." "In my opinion, out of competition testing is the biggest deterrent to illicit drug use in this industry," Dr. Barry Carter concluded. "Obviously, out of competition is a multi-faceted issue which needs to be discussed further," stated Robert Schmitz, OSRC Chairman. "At our January 2019 meeting I'm asking the Ohio Department of Agriculture's testing lab to be on hand to lend their insight into this issue." by Kimberly Rinker, OSDF Administrator 

On 6 September 2018, the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board considered a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1) against licensed trainer-driver Courtney Slater. AHRR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under AHRR 190(1) related to a urine sample collected from the horse ‘Luvyacookie’ after it finished first in Race 3, the ‘Hillcroft Stables 3YO Pace’, at the Stawell harness racing meeting on 3 December 2018. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported the analysis of that urine sample revealed arsenic in excess of the allowable threshold. Ms Slater was also charged with a breach of AHRR 190B(1) being that she failed to keep and maintain a log book as required. Ms Slater pleaded guilty to both charges before submissions on penalty were heard from the HRV Stewards and Ms Slater. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered Ms Slater’s guilty plea and cooperation throughout the investigation; Ms Slater’s excellent record in regard to prohibited substances; and the steps taken to prevent recurrence. Ms Slater was subsequently fined $3000, of which $2000 was suspended for a period of 12 months. The HRV RAD Board also ordered, under AHRR 195, that ‘Luvyacookie’ be disqualified from Race 3 at Stawell on 3 December 2017 and that the placings be amended accordingly. HRV RAD Board Panel: Alanna Duffy (Chair), Kerry Willcock   Harness Racing Victoria

Three more Canterbury racing figures have been charged as part of police investigations into harness racing's race-fixing scandal - both with supplying drugs, and one of the suspects with possession of a stun gun. That brings to 10 the number of horsepeople, all from Canterbury and working in the harness racing industry, who have been charged today for either supplying Class B drugs or race-fixing. All have come to police attention through Operation Inca, which started as a race-fixing investigation 18 months ago after information passed on by the Racing Integrity Unit. Today's arrests are the result of a further six search warrants conducted in Christchurch this morning, taking the total number of search warrants to 17. Phone surveillance has resulted in five horsepeople from Canterbury and a non-licence holder who works inside the racing industry in Manawatu being charged over being involved in or profitting from race fixing, which is listed in court documents as match fixing. But the recreational drug use or supply cases appear to have come about from information gathered in the course of the race-fixing investigation. Only one person, a 26-year-old male who appeared in a Christchurch court yesterday and was granted name suppression, has been charged with both race-fixing and drug supply offences. The story has rocked the racing industry to its core and looks set to get bigger as at least one other leading horseperson is named in court documents relating to the drug charges. Earlier today the Racing Integrity Unit banned all six trainers or drivers charged from attending race meetings, which now looks certain to happen to the two latest trainers charged. That will mean at least eight horsepeople who could have had horses racing at Addington this Friday night will not be able to attend and the RIU will then rule on whether that can participate in racing activities before their cases are heard. Harness racing bosses are dismayed by the rapidly-growing number of cases but have vowed their flagship national awards, for which some of those charged were in the running for honours, will still go ahead at Alexandra Park on September 29. With that night not seeing Alexandra Park hosting a race meeting, any industry member who has been charged would still be able to attend. Early today a race held at Nelson on June 8 was named in court as being part of the race-fixing investigation while the Herald understands a relatively minor race at Manawatu earlier in the year, is also under investigation. One of the industry's glamour events, the $200,000 New Zealand Derby at Addington in April, was investigated by police but seems unlikely to be at the centre of any race-fixing allegations. Michael Guerin

HARNESS Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards conducted an inquiry yesterday into reports received from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that synephrine had been detected in post-race urine samples obtained from the following horses: FUTURE STRIDE- following its win in Race 5 at Penrith on Thursday 29 March 2018; BACKINTHEGAME- following its win in Race 4 at Penrith on Thursday 3 May 2018. The ‘B’ samples were confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Ms Wilkins appeared at the inquiry and provided evidence of her husbandry practices. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis were presented, as well as analytical reports in relation to teff grass hay obtained from Ms Wilkins’ stable and plant samples from the Menangle Park Training Centre. HRNSW Regulatory veterinarian, Dr Martin Wainscott also provided evidence to the inquiry. Ms Wilkins pleaded guilty to two (2) charges issued pursuant to Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4) for presenting FUTURE STRIDE and BACKINTHEGAME to race not free of a prohibited substance, being synephrine. In respect of those charges, Stewards recorded a conviction, however, did not impose a penalty on Ms Wilkins as they were satisfied that the detection of synephrine had resulted from environmental contamination.  In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following: Ms Wilkins’ first Prohibited Substance offences; Analytical reports; Environmental contamination; Ms Wilkins’ licence history and other personal subjective facts. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, FUTURE STRIDE and BACKINTHEGAME were disqualified from the abovementioned races. Ms Wilkins was advised of her right to appeal this decision.   Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  mprentice@hrnsw.com.au GRANT ADAMS | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •  gadams@hrnsw.com.au

HARNESS Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards conducted an inquiry yesterday into a report received from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that synephrine had been detected in post-race urine sample obtained from IDEAL LIFESTYLE following its win in Race 5 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday 29 May, 2018. The ‘B’ sample was confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Mr Grimson appeared at the inquiry and provided evidence of his registered training establishment and husbandry practices. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis were presented, as well as analytical reports in relation to teff grass hay obtained from Mr Grimson’s stable and plant samples from the Menangle Park Training Centre. HRNSW Regulatory veterinarian, Dr Martin Wainscott also provided evidence to the inquiry. Mr Grimson pleaded guilty to a charge issued pursuant to Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4) for presenting IDEAL LIFESTYLE to race not free of a prohibited substance, being synephrine. In respect of that charge, Stewards recorded a conviction, however, did not impose a penalty on Mr Grimson as they were satisfied that the detection of synephrine had resulted from environmental contamination.  In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following: Mr Grimson’s first Prohibited Substance offence; Analytical reports; Environmental contamination; Mr Grimson’s licence history and other personal subjective facts. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, IDEAL LIFESTYLE was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Mr Grimson was advised of his right to appeal this decision.     Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  mprentice@hrnsw.com.au GRANT ADAMS | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •  gadams@hrnsw.com.au

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