LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) and the Association of Official Racing Chemists (AORC) will jointly hold a major racing industry roundtable and conference on equine welfare and medication policy on April 21-23, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Resort in Tampa, Florida. “The ARCI is the only umbrella organization encompassing the totality of horse racing whose members create and enforce rules and adjudicate racing disputes. The AORC is an international organization composed of chemists dedicated to the detection of prohibited substances in racing animals. The members of the AORC are on the front line of the most expansive anti-doping program in professional sport and we rely on them extensively to detect illegal drug use,” ARCI President Ed Martin said. Topics to be discussed at the roundtable include: Coordination of investigatory intelligence Expanded Capabilities of Testing Laboratories Emerging Integrity Threats Effective strategies to combat doping Applicability of hair testing to horse racing “Should We Care About Substances That Do Not Affect Performance or Hurt the Horse?” During the conference the ARCI Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee will consider any recommended policy changes to take effect in 2016. The newly formed ARCI Scientific Advisory Group will hold a face to face meeting during the conference to assess research and published science associated with any pending policy change recommendations. Those interested in attending the conference can find more information, including hotel information and online registration, at http://bit.do/ARCI-2015. by Steve May, for ARCI
Harness Racing New South Wales again proved that they are the leaders in integrity with the collection of 87 samples, both post and pre race, from Saturday night’s Miracle Mile meeting. In addition, all horses engaged in the Coca Cola and Cordina Sprint qualifiers were housed in the HRNSW Retention Facility one day prior to the respective events. All horses drawn to run in the Miracle Mile were on site two days prior to the meeting. HRNSW Veterinary Surgeon Martin Wainscott said that although it was busy night everything ran smoothly. “All the trainers were most co operative,” he said. “The positive feedback regarding NSW increasing integrity is great for the industry. Everyone wants a level playing field.” A number of the samples from Saturday night will be sent to overseas laboratories for further testing including those horses engaged in the SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile. “As the regulator HRNSW must ensure that all stakeholders are given the opportunity of competing on equal terms,” said HRNSW CEO John Dumesny. 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 31 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: Name:Dale Walker Position:Marketing Manager Phone:(02) 9722 6600 Email:email@example.com
Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) has concluded an inquiry into results received from the Australian Government National Measurement Institute that Cobalt was detected above the threshold in a sample taken from EARLS REIGN following its win in race 1, the Commercial Club Albury Mahogany Room Pace (1770 metres) conducted at the Albury harness meeting on 1 March 2014. The “B” sample and associated control sample was confirmed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia. Mr Tyndall was issued with the following charge in writing pursuant to Rule 190 (1),(2) & (4); That as the registered trainer he did present EARLS REIGN to race in race 1 at the Albury harness meeting on 1 March 2014, when a urine sample taken, upon analysis by two approved laboratories had reported a Cobalt level in excess of the threshold prescribed by NSWLR 188A(2)(a); Mr Tyndall pleaded guilty to the charge issued and made written submissions on penalty. Mr Tyndall was disqualified for a period of 3 years to commence from 1 May 2014, the date upon which he was stood down. Mr Tyndall was also ordered to pay $200 to HRNSW within 14 days for costs associated with the laboratory fees including the analytical process and couriers. This order was made pursuant to NSW Local Rule 256A. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the guilty plea, the nature of the Class 1 substance, the level recorded (300ug/L), Mr Tyndall’s licence history over a period of 20 years and other personal subjective facts including personal and financial hardship. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, EARLS REIGN was disqualified from the abovementioned race. 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 31 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: Name: Reid Sanders Position: Manager Integrity & Chairman of Stewards Phone: (02) 9722 6600 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ontario Racing Commission on Monday, November 17, 2014 ordered an indefinite full suspension for harness racing trainer Corey Johnson and five of his horses scheduled to race Monday at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto were scratched from competing. According to sources, one of Johnson’s horses tested positive for a TCO2 (blood gas or “milk shaking”) level higher than allowed in a horses natural system. It was also reported that this is a second time offence for Johnson. He also had horses scheduled to race at Woodbine this Thursday and they have been scratched from the program. The positive test results could not have come at a worse time as Johnson, 24, of Rockwood, Ontario, Canada, has two horses scheduled to race this weekend at the Meadowlands in the Breeders Crown Championship Finals. Volez Hanover is scheduled to race Friday in the $281,000 Breeders Crown for Older Pacing Mares and Traceur Hanover is in to go on Saturday in the $500,000 final for two-year-old pacing colts. While both Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario and the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey have had reciprocal agreements in the past concerning honoring suspensions of harness racing trainers, drivers and owners, this situation presents a unique scenario. As of press time of this story, the New Jersey Racing Commission has not called for the scratching of the two horses from Corey Johnson’s stable. Scratch time is at 9:00 am Wednesday morning at the Meadowlands. Because the horses were entered for the Breeders Crown races well in advance of the positive test result for Johnson, the New Jersey Racing Commission and the Meadowlands may have no choice but to allow the two horses to compete. That final decision will not be known until 9:00 am Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, Corey Johnson has been having his greatest season as a trainer in 2014. The youngster first started officially training horses in 2010 and has amassed 339 wins from his stable and just over $5 million in purses won by his horses. In 2014 alone his horses have already earned over $2 million. According to the United States Trotting Association, Johnson had a post-race positive test back on March 29, 2014 for the presences of Pyrilamine, a Class 3 illegal drug and was given a 15-day suspension and a $500 fine that he has appealed. Attempts to contact Corey Johnson for a statement were unanswered. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Talented harness racing driver Byron Hornhardt is the latest South Australian participant to produce a urine sample showing a presence of the banned substance d-methamphetamine. Harness Racing SA has received a report from Racing Analytical Services Ltd in relation to the sample taken from Hornhardt at Globe Derby last month, which indicated d-methamphetamine was in the reinsman’s system. Confirmation of the finding will depend upon the analysis of the reserve urine sample during the next few weeks. Acting under AHR Rule 183(d), and in accordance with HRSA Drug and Alcohol Policy, Hornhardt has been stood down by the governing body effective immediately. Last September, trainer Luke Alcorn had his sentence for a similar breach of the rules reduced from two years to 18 months. Alcorn was originally found guilty under Rule 250(1) and was disqualified for two years after a urine sample he provided last February contained d-methamphetamine. Appealing against the conviction and penalty, Alcorn was unable to have the decision overturned, but received a six-month reduction in his sentence. During the appeal, stewards provided details of the events occurring before the inquiry. These were: On December 21, 2013, Alcorn refused to provide a urine sample when directed by stewards and was stood down from driving. A date for the inquiry into that refusal was set for February 13, 2014. Alcorn was charged under Rule 238 and disqualified for six months. An appeal was lodged, with Alcorn granted a stay of proceedings. On February 28, 2014 Alcorn provided a urine sample in order to resume driving under a stay of proceedings. Upon analysis, it was discovered the sample contained the banned substance d-methamphetamine. Last January, reinsmen, Kenny Rogers and Dean Girardi also provided urine samples which showed the presence of banned substances. Rogers was suspended for nine months, with three months of the sentence suspended, after urine samples he provided showed presence of d-amphetamine, d-methamphetamine and 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (cannabis). Tested again on July 5, Rogers’ urine again sampled showed the presence of d-amphetamine. As such, Rogers suspension was instated, with stewards also handing the driver a 12-month disqualification, to take effect after his suspension ended. It was Rogers’ third offence under Rule 250(1), or a similar rule, during an eight-month period. Girardi was disqualified for two years after his sample was found upon analysis to contain the banned substances d-amphetamine and d-methamphetamine. It was Girardi’s fourth breach of the banned substance rule. PAUL COURTS
In a massive victory for the industry, the Supreme Court has dismissed the long-running action against Harness Racing New South Wales. Earlier today Justice Adamson handed down her decision relating to the case instigated by horsemen Neil Day and Dean McDowell opposing the governing body. (Court's decision here) While the situation has been viewed mainly as a cobalt issue, the broader ramifications could have disastrous for the industry had Day and McDowell been triumphant. In fact, success would have forced the sport to shut down according to HRNSW Manager of Integrity, Reid Sanders. As part of their argument against their bans in relation to presenting horses with levels of cobalt above the accepted threshold, Day and McDowell challenged several rules. The rules included HRNSW’s right to issue – or cancel – licences and enforce drug related regulations. Basically, a loss by HRNSW would have meant participants had no boundaries in relation to drugs or tactics…a literal free-for-all! “This is a big win for the industry in relation to regulation and control,” Sanders said. “It was a very broad attack on several rules and our right to enforce them. “If they were successful, harness racing may have ceased to exist as we would be unable to enforce any rules. “The case wasn’t just about cobalt, it was about drug rules as a whole and Harness Racing New South Wales’ right to licence people, which makes for no regulation at all.” Although the industry has been vindicated, the financial cost is still a burden the governing body will have to bare. “It has been a costly hearing as we put together a very strong legal team,” Sanders declared. “Although we have been awarded costs, you never get it all back, only a percentage.” Day and McDowell were initially stood down by HRNSW last April after representatives from their stables returned tests above the cobalt threshold. Day’s Benzi Marsh was swabbed after its success in the Final Goulburn Soldiers Club Goulburn Championship at Goulburn on February 24, 2014. McDowell’s pair Chevals Charlie and Twilight Dancer were tested following victories at Bankstown on February 28, 2014. HRNSW will now continue with its inquiries into the matters involving Day and McDowell. In an unrelated matter, Harness Racing Australia has issued a statement relating to a national level for cobalt. At yesterday’s Annual General Meeting, members unanimously adopted the threshold for “cobalt at a concentration at or below 200 micrograms per litre of in urine.” “Matters of integrity are of paramount importance for public confidence in our industry,” HRA chairman Geoff Want declared. “While it may only be a small number of people who try to cheat the system and participate in fraudulent practices, we will continue to do all we can to ensure the integrity system works and the playing field is level.” Industry rules relating to race day testing are dealt with in AHRR 188A(1) which sets out prohibited substances, while 188A(2) sets out exceptions to sub-rule 1. The cobalt threshold is now defined as follows: 188A(2)(k) Cobalt at a concentration at or below 200 micrograms per litre of in urine. PAUL COURTS
Columbus, OH --- Results of an intensive, United States Trotting Association-funded scientific study intended to ascertain the appropriate regulatory level for determining the excessive presence of the naturally-occurring substance cobalt were announced on Tuesday (Sept. 30). Based upon extensive research, the scientists have concluded that 70 parts per billion in blood is the appropriate regulatory threshold. The recommendation guards against false positives, while identifying those who are engaged in artificial administration with the intent to enhance a horse's performance. "I want to thank Doctors Maylin, McKeever and Malinowski for applying appropriate scientific principles and protocols to achieve a regulatory threshold that is both reasonable for the industry and efficacious in deterring those who would choose to violate it," said USTA President Phil Langley in praising the contingent's diligent efforts. "With substances that are a natural constituent of a horse like cobalt, there is always a fine line between catching the cheaters and protecting innocent horsemen from violation. These scientists worked hard to achieve a proper balance, which should serve as a guidepost for the rest of the industry," added Langley. The USTA Medication Advisory Committee will continue to study the overall effects of cobalt and other substances in the racehorse in greater detail. Research indicates that cobalt stimulates the production of erythropoietin (EPO) to produce red blood cells. Widespread abuse of cobalt by human athletes has been rumored for years, and its purported use in racehorses prompted the USTA to take a highly proactive approach in the prevention of its artificial administration for the purpose of illicit performance enhancement. In June, the USTA contracted with Dr. George Maylin of New York's Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College to determine at what level cobalt ceases being considered a naturally occurring substance and becomes a clear attempt at performance enhancement. His work was assisted by Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Associate Director Dr. Ken McKeever from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Based upon the USTA's funding, Dr. Maylin was able to secure a long-term lease of a specialized state-of-the-art instrument required to conduct proper scientific analysis to determine the presence and levels of cobalt in samples. That new, unique equipment with unrivaled performance differentiates these results from any other scientific study on the artificial introduction of cobalt in horses. It is anticipated that the regulators in several jurisdictions will consider the suggested threshold when the supporting data is released. From the USTA Communications Department
Montreal, August 7 2014 – Yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture, Pierre Paradis, announced his intention to put forward a bill that would redefine animals in the Civil Code of Quebec and grant them the status of sentient beings. In order to proceed with this reform, Mr. Paradis reached an agreement with the Minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée. Mr. Paradis’ announcement comes in response to the Animals are not things manifesto, which was launched on January 22nd and has been signed by over 46 000 people. The manifesto, which is supported by theMontreal SPCA, calls for a reconsideration of the legal status of animals in the Civil Code of Quebec. Currently, our Civil Code considers animals to be moveable property, indistinguishable from a toaster or a chair. Under civil law, the act of hurting or abusing an animal is therefore tantamount to the destruction of property. The SPCA applauds Minister Paradis’ willingness to reform the legal status of animals. “Given the importance and complexity of this issue, as well as the fact that over 46 000 Quebec citizens have expressed their concern about it, it is crucial that public consultations take place before moving forward with a bill” said Me Sophie Gaillard, Lawyer and Campaigns Manager for the Montreal SPCA Animal Advocacy Department. “We feel that this is an opportunity to effect real change for animals in this province and for Quebec to become a leader in animal welfare instead of lagging behind.” Anita Kapuscinska, Media Relations Coordinator, Montreal SPCA, 514-226-3932, or email@example.com.
While some prominent trainers called for phasing out use of race-day furosemide in a press release Aug. 1, top horsemen's groups throughout the country said this week they have not changed their stance in supporting use of the diuretic. The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association Aug. 6 issued an open letter declaring its continued support for race-day furosemide (Salix, also commonly called Lasix) to prevent or reduce the severity of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. The opinion in the letter, which was signed by the THA's six state association presidents, is matched by other prominent horsemen's groups throughout the country. On Friday, 25 prominent trainers, including multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher and seven members of the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame, signed a letter proposing race-day Lasix be prohibited in 2-year-old races in 2015 and in all races in 2016. Because trainers have been the industry's biggest supporters of race-day Lasix, the letter, signed by four of the current top 10 trainers by earnings in North America, offered a rare public display of division on the issue among trainers. Despite that division, prominent horsemen's groups said they have no plans to change their current support of race-day Lasix. To Read the full story on BloodHorse.com.
Racing Queensland Stewards today inquired in to a report received from the Queensland Government Racing Science Centre that Diclofenac was present in a post-race urine sample collected from CHESAPEAKA BOY subsequent to it competing and winning race 9, Trottips.com Trotters Discretionary Handicap at Albion Park on 03 May 2014. Today evidence was taken from the trainer of the gelding Mr Stuart Hunter. Licenced trainer Mr Michael Grant also provided evidence as the person responsible for presenting CHESAPEAKA BOY to race in the above mentioned race, as Mr Hunter was absent due to campaigning another runner interstate. Evidence was also tendered by Queensland Government Racing Science Centre Senior Veterinary Officer Dr. Karen Caldwell. After considering all of the evidence Mr Hunter and Mr Grant were both charged pursuant to AHR rules 190(1) and 190(3) which read: AHR 190(1) - A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. AHR 190(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. The particulars of the charge issued against Mr Hunter being that when CHESAPEAKA BOY competed at Albion Park on 03 May 2014, Mr Hunter was the registered trainer of the gelding when a post-race urine sample collected upon winning that event was found upon analysis to contain a prohibited substance namely Diclofenac. The particulars of the charge issued against Mr Grant being that as the person left in charge of CHESAPEAKA BOY he presented that gelding to race on 03 May 2014 at Albion Park when a post-race urine sample collected upon winning that event was found upon analysis to contain a prohibited substance namely Diclofenac. Mr Hunter and Mr Grant both pleaded guilty to the charges. When assessing the matter of penalty, stewards took into account: The circumstances of the case and the culpability of both parties. The nature of the substance involved. The licence history of Mr Hunter and Mr Grant and previous breaches of a similar nature. The need for a penalty to serve as a deterrent to illustrate that drug free racing is of paramount importance to the integrity of Harness Racing. Mr Hunter and Mr Grant were both fined the sum of $5000. Under the provisions of HRA rule 195, CHESAPEAKA BOY was disqualified from its first placing at Albion Park on 03 May 2014, and all other placegetters were amended accordingly. Mr Hunter and Mr Grant were advised of their appeal rights. Stewards Inquiry - Racing Queensland. Panel: D Farquharson, K Wolsey, D Aurisch
HRSA has received a report from Racing Analytical Services Ltd in relation to a urine sample taken from KING GALLEON NZ after it competed in a trial at Betezy Park, Globe Derby on 15 June 2014. This sample was found upon analysis to contain the prohibited substance DEXAMETHASONE. This finding has been confirmed by the Racing Science Centre in Brisbane. Trainer Scott Forby has been interviewed in relation to these findings and will be required to attend a stewards inquiry which will be conducted at a time and date to be fixed. BARBARA SCOTT Chair of Stewards.
The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to charges issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Rules of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190(1) and 90A(2.9)(a) against licensed trainer Mr Anthony Peacock and ARHR 196A(1)(ii), 190(1), 204, 187(2) and 239A against licensed stablehand Mr Chris Hillman. ARHR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under ARHR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mr Peacock and Mr Hillman related to a post-race urine sample taken from the horse ‘Azumah The Booma’ after it finished first in Race 6 the ‘Central Goldfields Shire 3YO Pace’ at Maryborough on 24 April 2014. Mr Peacock was the registered trainer of the horse at this time and Mr Hillman had been authorised to present the horse to race at Maryborough on behalf of Mr Peacock. ARHR 190(3) reads as follows: 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. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample collected from ‘Azumah The Booma’ revealed the sample contained the prohibited substance Hydrocortisone Hemisuccinate. The Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) in Sydney reported confirmation of these findings in the reserve portion of the relevant urine sample. 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. Mr Peacock pleaded not guilty to the charge under ARHR 190(1), however was subsequently found guilty to the charge. After hearing submissions regarding penalty, the HRV RAD Board imposed a fine of $6,000 upon Mr Peacock. Mr Peacock was fined a further $250 under ARHR 90A(2.9)(a) for failing to ensure Mr Hillman had held an appropriate licence prior to and on 24 April 2014. Mr Hillman pleaded guilty to the charge under ARHR 190 and ARHR 196A(1)(ii), which reads as follows; A person shall not administer or cause to be administered to a horse any prohibited substance: (ii) which is detected in any sample taken from such horse prior to or following the running of any race. Mr Hillman made admissions during the investigation to the administration of the product solu-cortef approximately 48 hours prior to Azumah The Booma racing at Maryborough on 24 April 2014. After considering submissions regarding penalty, the HRV RAD Board imposed a disqualification of Mr Hillman’s licence for a period of 6 months. Mr Hillman pleaded guilty to ARHR 204 for carrying out the duties of a stablehand for a considerable period of time leading up to and including 24 April 2014, whilst not being the holder of a relevant licence. The HRV RAD Board imposed a disqualification of Mr Hillman’s licence for a period of 1 month, which was ordered to be served concurrently with the disqualification imposed under ARHR 196A(1)(ii). Mr Hillman pleaded guilty to the charge under ARHR 187(2) for giving false information to stewards when initially interviewed by HRV Stewards on 16 May 2014 where he advised that he was unable to explain the presence of the prohibited substance in the urine sample collected from ‘Azumah The Booma’. For this offence, the RAD Board imposed a fine of $1000. Mr Hillman also pleaded guilty to the charge under ARHR 239A for failing to advise Mr Peacock of the administration of solu-cortef, which has led to a breach of the Australian Rules of Harness Racing as the treatment failed to be recorded in Mr Peacock’s log book. For this offence the RAD Board imposed a fine of $250. Under ARHR 195, the HRV RAD Board ordered that ‘Azumah The Booma' be disqualified from Race 6 at Maryborough on 24 April 2014. Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board
Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) yesterday conducted an inquiry into a report from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory that Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) above the prescribed threshold was detected in a pre-race blood sample taken from THREE POINT TURN NZ prior to Race 1, the Form 700 Pace (1720 metres) at the Young harness meeting on Saturday 5 July 2014. The “B” sample for THREE POINT TURN NZ has been confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Mr Townsend pleaded guilty to a charge under Rule 190(1), (2) & (4) for presenting the horse to race not free of a prohibited substance. Mr Townsend was disqualified for a period of 22 months to commence from 10 July 2014, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering penalty, Stewards were mindful of the nature of the substance and the levels detected. In addition, Stewards were mindful of the guilty pleas entered and personal subjective facts. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, THREE POINT TURN NZ was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Harness Racing New South Wales
Racing Queensland stewards today inquired into the circumstances surrounding the analysts’ findings in respect to a pre-race blood sample taken from MACS CHOICE (NZ) prior to it competing in race 4 at Albion Park on 23 June 2014. The Queensland Government Racing Science Centre reported a level of Total Carbon Dioxide (TC02) in the blood sample in excess of the threshold as prescribed by the Australian Harness Rules of Racing. Evidence was provided by the trainer Mr Doug Manger, who explained the circumstances and possible explanation for the elevated reading. After consideration, Mr. Manger was charged pursuant to Rule 190 (1) which reads: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances The particulars of the charge being that trainer Mr Doug Manger did present MACS CHOICE (NZ) for racing at Albion Park on 23 June 2014, when a pre-race blood sample taken from this horse was found, upon analysis, to contain a prohibited substance namely, Alkalinising Agents, as evidenced by total carbon dioxide (TC02) present at a concentration in excess of the threshold as prescribed by the Australian Harness Rules of Racing. Mr Manger pleaded guilty to the charge. When assessing the matter of penalty, stewards took into account: The nature of the substance concerned The circumstances of the case Mr. Manger’s unblemished record under this rule over a 20 year period The need for a penalty to serve as a deterrent to illustrate that drug free racing is of paramount importance to the integrity of Harness Racing. Mr Manger was disqualified for 6 months. Stewards directed under Rule 195 that MACS CHOICE NZ be disqualified from its 5th placing at Albion Park on 23 June 2014 and that all other placings should be amended accordingly. Mr Manger was advised of his rights of appeal. Panel: D. Farquharson, K. Wolsey, P. Zimmermann
Training will become a game of Russian Roulette unless harness racing officials become more proactive investigating high bicarbonate levels and allow trainers to prove their innocence, says trainer Mark Jones. Jones, one of the country's most celebrated reinsmen and now a successful trainer at Burnham, is concerned at Harness Racing New Zealand's proposal to introduce strict new penalties for breaches of the TCO2 rule. A remit that will go before the annual general meeting of clubs in Christchurch next month would see the TCO2 threshold lifted from 35 to 36 (with a margin of error of one) to bring it into line with the thoroughbred code and overseas jurisdictions. But with it would come a dramatic rise in the penalties handed out, fines of only a few thousand dollars replaced by minimum disqualifications of two years for a first offence, five years for a second breach and 10 years for a third offence. The proposal came under immediate fire from Amberley trainer Jamie Keast yesterday when he was suspended for six months for his third high bicarb, after Westburn Creed tested 36.2 at Kaikoura last November. And while Jones says the lifting of the level is long overdue, he has good reason to oppose the draconian bans given he is facing a bicarb charge of his own after Remiss returned a level of 36.2 at Forbury Park on June 5 while Jones was away in Nelson. After the mare came close to testing high again on another trip to Dunedin three weeks later, returning 35.6, Jones was forced to sack the horse, not prepared to risk a second charge. Jones has no idea why Remiss tests high but says his attempts to prove his innocence have been rebutted by the Racing Integrity Unit. ''Under the rule, you can't beat them. It's one of strict liability and they say they don't have to do or prove anything. It's an easy kill for them.'' Jones said he had invited the RIU out to his property to show them the $100,000 CCT camera security system he had in place. But his assurances that he had taken all possible precautions were met by a blunt claim that the horse should not have been left unattended, albeit briefly, when strapper Kimberley Butt was out on the track driving. ''I told them I was prepared to pay for them to take the horse for a week then transport it down to Dunedin, test if before it leaves, then again on arrival to see if it its bicarb rises. ''They told me that even if the level went over 36, it would be no defence. Jones said all he was asking for was a measure of common sense and the chance to prove his innocence. And that would be an absolute necessity if HRNZ introduced two-year disqualifications for first offenders. ''I don't like being accused of things I haven't done and it's my livelihood on the line,'' said Jones, fearful that his lifeline of selling horses to Australia will be cut off if his reputation is dented. Jones said RIU investigator Kylie Williams told him if he wanted to race Remiss again she would give him permission to give her a warm-up on the track earlier in the night to lower her level by one to two points. ''But I refused. I shouldn't have to do that to be able to race a horse.'' Instead he passed Remiss on to his father Peter to train and, warmed up twice before she raced at Addington last week, she tested at 34.8. ''But if he hadn't warmed her up before the tests, the level could have been close to 36 or even over.'' Ironically, Peter Jones is also training Mattjestic Rebeck, who landed Rangiora hobby trainer Neville Gorrie in strife in June 2013 when it tested 36.3, resulting in his being fined $1800. Jones said it was simply outrageous to suggest that Gorrie, along with fellow respected Ladbrooks trainer Gavin Cook, whose horse Valhalla tested high at 37 and 38.3 last year, should be disqualified for two years. Jones, who has an earlier bicarb strike against his name, when Algeepee tested 38.2 at Addington in 2010, would be looking at five years out. ''You could never come back after that long. I'd have to sell my property.'' Jones said he's had other horses with unexplained bicarb variances, such as Fair Dinkum Bromac, whose resting paddock level of 30 routinely jumped four points when he went to the races. He had been the same when trained by John Hay. ''It's all very well for their vet to say high levels can only happen with administrations but so many things can affect them. ''I need to figure out why it's happening to me. Am I over-training them, is it in my feed? ''I know the pre-mix feed I use has preservatives in it. That wouldn't be enough to put the level over by itself but put that together with dehydration, stress, lung infections and you can come up with a lethal cocktail. That's scary.'' Courtesy of Barry Lichter Reprinted with permissin of Fairfax media
Suspended harness trainer Jamie Keast applauds a move to lift the allowable level of bicarbonate in racehorses but he warns lengthy automatic bans could crucify the innocent. Keast, based at Amberley with his partner Henriette Westrum, has just been suspended for six months for his third breach of the bicarb rule, and says he is unlikely to return to training when his time is up at the end of the year. ''I've lost a lot of clients over this and I don't think I'll even bother training again,'' Keast said. ''I'm not making any money out of it. ''I can earn more money in 15 minutes shoeing a horse than I can training one.'' Keast said he basically put his hands in the air after Westburn Creed returned a level of 36.2 at Kaikoura last November even though he had not cheated. ''We knew after the last case that there was no point fighting them because of their strict liability rule and we're still struggling to pay off the last fine.'' Two containers of bicarbonate of soda were taken from Keats' feed room, along with a drenching tube and bucket but Keast denied that he put any bicarb into Westburn Creed's feed. He said they regularly drenched horses who had raced, trialled, or done fast work with a mixture of substances which included DMSO and one tablespoon of baking soda. But after Wally's Girl tested high last July they changed their practice and drenched their horses three days before a meeting, not two. The RIU's veterinary adviser Andrew Grierson said an administration three days before the race could not have elevated the horse's TCO2 levels on the day. Keast's counsel Mary-Jane Thomas submitted Westburn Creed had a throat condition which could have raised his bicarb level because it restricted the intake of oxygen and exhaling of carbon dioxide. After Westburn Creed underwent surgery in mid 2012, his levels decreased but about a year later, in October, 2013, their vet discovered the growth had returned. Thomas submitted Grierson did not expressly discount the possibility of the nasal obstruction being the cause, concluding rather that the readings did not support that as the likely cause. Grierson said the level was best explained statistically by the administration of an alkalising agent. Christopher Lange for the RIU said Westburn Creed's levels were between 32 and 34.1 when trained by Ivan Court, between 35.2 and 36.2 when with Keast and Westrum, and between 31.3 and 32.8 when taken over by Bob Rochford. Keast says he's all in favour of a Harness Racing New Zealand remit which will be put at the annual meeting of clubs in Christchurch next month that the level go up one point - with the built-in margin of error it would mean the new cutoff was 37, a threshold neither of his horses would have tripped. But he said rather than having automatic minimum sentences of two years for a first offence, five years for a second and 10 years for a third breach, penalties should be determined by the level. ''We reckon we're innocent and there have been a lot of other people crucified for this already. ''Any vet will tell you this is not an exact science. Lots of factors like dehydration, feed, nervousness and respiratory conditions can have an affect.'' Keast will be allowed to continue driving in races, and carry out his farrier work but he cannot work horses or break them in until January. Courtesy of Barry Lichter Reprinted with permission of Fairfax media