Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 2467
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

High-profile Canterbury harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath has been disqualified for 8 years for the attempted administration of a prohibited substance to a horse, refusing to supply information to a Racecourse Inspector and Obstructing a Racecourse Inspector during an investigation. Full details below: BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY Information Numbers: A11684, A11685, A11686 In the matter of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT Informant AND NIGEL RAYMOND MCGRATH Licensed Driver and Trainer Respondent Judicial Committee: J Lovell-Smith - Chair T Utikere - Member Present: Mr S Irving - Informant Mr B H Dickey - Counsel for the Informant Mr N R McGrath - Respondent Mr P H B Hall QC - Counsel for the Respondent RESERVED DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 3 JULY 2020 [1] The Respondent, Nigel Raymond McGrath is a licensed Public Trainer and Open Driver under the Rules of New Zealand Harness Racing (HRNZ). He has been a Harness Trainer since 2000. [2] The Respondent admitted three charges of offending deemed to be serious racing offences under Rule 505(1) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Law. These charges are: (a) Attempts to administer (A11684) Rule 1004(1). On 13 March 2020 at Christchurch together with Robert George Burrows did attempt to administer to “Steel The Show” which was entered in Race 8 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club’s meeting at Addington that evening, a prohibited substance by way of nasal gastric tube. (b) Refuses to make a statement (A11685) Rule 1001(1)(i). On 13 March 2020 at Christchurch refused to supply information by answering the questions of a Racecourse Investigator regarding the tubing equipment located in his possession and the attempted race day administration of the horse “Steel The Show.” (c) Obstructing a Racecourse Investigator (A11686) Rule 1001(1)(j). On 13 March 2020 at Christchurch obstructed a Racecourse Investigator by preventing him from seizing tubing equipment as evidence in the course of an investigation into a race day administration and ordering Racecourse Investigators to leave his property. The Course of the Proceedings [3] As recorded in the Committee’s Minute of 19 May 2020, the Respondent pleaded guilty to all three charges but disputes two matters in the Summary of Facts. [4] The guilty pleas to all three charges were confirmed prior to commencement of the disputed facts hearing. By consent, charge 1 was amended to record the correct Rule as Rule 1004(1). (Rule 1001(1)(q) having been deleted on 25 November 2019) which states: A person commits a breach of the rules who administers a prohibited substance to a horse which is taken, or is to be taken to a racecourse for the purpose of engaging in a race. [5] Certain facts were agreed in accordance with Mr McGrath’s guilty pleas and a Statement of the Agreed facts was provided to the Committee and is set out in full in this decision. [6] The general matters in dispute are as follows: [7] The first two disputed matters relate to the attempting to administer breach (A11684). [8] First, there is a dispute as to the nature of the substance that was attempted to be administered. The Informant identified the substance as likely to be a solution of chemicals for the purpose of alkalising the blood or increasing the levels of TCO2, which is a prohibited substance. The Respondent denies this and says that the substance is a product known as “Air Support” which can be purchased at equine stores. [9] Secondly, there is a dispute as to the method of administration. The Informant alleges that the substance was attempted to be administered by a nasal gastric tube. The Respondent says that the substance was to be squirted through a tube on the horse’s tongue. [10] The third dispute is in respect of the RIU’s allegation that the Respondent became aggressive and obstructive, after the horse had been recaptured. The Respondent denies that he was aggressive and obstructive. [11] The evidence for the Informant consisted of video footage and transcript of the Informant’s inspectors’ attendance at the Respondent’s stable, transcripts of two interviews by the Informant of George Burrows, Licensed Stablehand, expert evidence from Dr A. Grierson, a veterinary surgeon, by AVL, regarding the likely type of drug administered and the method of administration. The Respondent, Mr McGrath gave evidence. [12] At the conclusion of the evidence, submissions were made by Counsel including submissions as to penalty. [13] The Committee reserved its decision at the conclusion of the hearing. Agreed Facts Parties [1] The Respondent Nigel Raymond McGrath (McGrath) is a licensed Public Trainer and Open Driver under the Rules of New Zealand Harness Racing (HRNZ). He is 46 years old and has been a harness trainer since 2000. [2] Robert George McKay Burrows (Burrows) is a Licensed Stablehand under the Rules of HRNZ. He is 54 years old and assists McGrath and has been employed in a number of different stables over many years. He is also employed as a barrier attendant by the Canterbury Jockey Club. Background [3] Over a period of time the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) received confidential information indicating that the hours prior to the races McGrath would ‘tube’ horses in his shed between the stables and the main road. [4] It is common knowledge that ‘Tubing’ is the process of inserting a rubber or plastic tube through a horse’s nose into its oesophagus for the purpose of administering a liquid substance. A funnel is usually attached to the tube and the liquid poured into the funnel, using gravity to force the liquid into the horse’s stomach. The Facts [5] On Friday 13 March 2020 RIU Investigators conducted surveillance of the shed next to Mr McGrath’s stables. [6] At 5:40 pm Mr McGrath was observed leading the 3yo colt ‘Steel The Show’ from the covered yard at the end of the stable block into the shed, approximately three hours prior to its scheduled race start time. [7] ‘Steel The Show’ was engaged in Race 8 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club’s meeting at Addington Raceway at 8:48 pm. [8] Minutes later RIU Investigator Simon Irving entered the property and went to the shed. [9] Located in the shed were Mr McGrath and Mr Burrows, ‘Steel The Show’ and a backpack containing tubing gear including a coiled rubber hose, a plastic funnel, a twitch and an empty 800 ml plastic drink bottle containing residue. [10] Mr McGrath immediately walked the horse from the shed and when confronted by another Investigator a short distance away, either the Respondent let the horse go or the horse got loose resulting in it running toward the stable complex. [11] Mr McGrath admitted that the horse was ‘Steel The Show’ and that it was racing that evening. [12] Mr McGrath refused to answer further questions regarding the tubing gear and the identity of his associate. [13] Mr Burrows remained in the shed and when questioned about the activity admitted that they were about to ‘tube’ the horse ‘Steel The Show’ with what he called “air supply”. [14] He acknowledged that this was in breach of the Rules of HRNZ and that it wasn’t the first time he had assisted in the procedure at the McGrath property. [15] Once the horse was recaptured and contained in its yard Mr McGrath’s demeanour changed from being resigned and he became obstructive. [16] He grabbed hold of the backpack held by Investigator Irving stating that it was his private property and initially would not release it even though he was repeatedly advised that it was being seized as part of an investigation into a racing matter. [17] Attempts were made to seize the tubing kit as evidence, but Mr McGrath continued to object and requested that Investigators leave his property and come back later. [18] Mr McGrath was repeatedly warned that Investigators were there lawfully under the Rules of HRNZ and his actions were making the matter much worse. [19] His strong objections continued, and to avoid further confrontation and to comply with his request RIU staff allowed Mr McGrath to recover the backpack and its contents and prepared to leave the property. [20] These interactions were recorded on RIU cell phones. [21] Video containing images of the tubing kit was also recorded. [22] Before Investigators left the property, Mr McGrath was advised that both his horses in Race 8 that evening would be scratched. [23] Due to Mr McGrath’s actions the RIU vet on standby was prevented from attending the property to gather further evidence and conduct drug tests on both ‘Steel The Show’ and Mr McGrath’s other runner engaged that evening ‘Cloud Nine’. [24] The Chairman of Stewards for the race meeting was advised of the incident and attempted to contact Mr McGrath by telephone (three times, two of which went straight to message so the Respondent may have only been aware of one call) and a text message requesting him a call regarding the scratching of his horses. [25] Mr McGrath did not respond to the request. [26] At approximately 3:00 pm the following day different RIU staff returned to the Mr McGrath stable to serve an Exclusion Notice on Mr McGrath and request he ‘hand over’ the tubing equipment from the previous day. [27] Mr McGrath refused to provide the tubing equipment, stating that he would contact his lawyer and that the RIU staff could come back later. [28] The tubing equipment has not been recovered and therefore could not be sent for analysis. Respondent’s Statement [29] The Respondent Mr McGrath refused to answer Investigators' questions on the day, despite being told that he had to respond, other than admitting that the horse he was found with was ‘Steel The Show’ and that it was racing that night. (a) The following day Mr McGrath attempted to contact another Investigator, Kylie Williams. He did not participate in interviews with the investigations involved. (b) He has subsequently provided a prepared, written statement to the RIU. Mr McGrath – Breaches of the Rules of HRNZ [30] Mr McGrath has committed the following offences against the HRNZ Rules: (a) Attempting to administer a prohibited substance on a raceday. (b) Refusing to supply information to a Racecourse Inspector. (c) Obstructing a Racecourse Inspector during an investigation. Conclusion [31] Mr McGrath has a previous serious racing offence charge from 2004 when he was disqualified for three years (reduced to 18 months on appeal) for three counts of administering a prohibited substance. [32] Mr McGrath also recently received a six-month suspension of his horseman’s licence after admitting a breach of the improper driving Rule, a result of Operation Inca. Evidence for the RIU [14] The video recordings of a visit to 502 Maddisons Road on 10 March 2020 made by Simon Irving, Racecourse Inspector were played. The transcript of the video recording was produced by consent. Present were Simon Irving, Nigel McGrath, George Burrows, Neil Grimstone and Oscar Westerlund. [15] Mr Irving introduced himself to Mr McGrath and asked him what was “going on “and “what was in the bag?” [16] George Burrows then hands the back pack to Mr Irving. [17] Mr McGrath walks horse out of shed. When asked what horse is that, Mr McGrath said it was racing tonight and that it was ‘Steel the Show’. Mr Irving asked Mr McGrath “You going to give it a tube tonight?” Mr McGrath said no. Mr Irving followed Mr McGrath with the horse toward the stables when the horse ran off toward the stable area. [18] Once the horse was safely tied up, Mr Irving looked inside the back pack and saw it had a twitch in it. He asked Mr McGrath to talk to him about it which he refused to do. Mr McGrath grabbed hold of the back pack again. Mr Irving said he was seizing the back pack as an exhibit, told him he was a racing inspector and that he must cooperate with them as it was part of an investigation. The request was repeated but Mr McGrath refused to hand over the back pack and asked Mr Irving and Mr Grimstone to leave his property and to give him the back pack. When Mr Grimstone told Mr McGrath they were taking the tube for analysis, Mr McGrath grabbed the rubber tube and walked off. Mr McGrath continued to argue and Mr Irving and Mr Grimstone let him take the contents of the back pack and walked away. [19] The contents of the back pack included a wooden twitch, coiled rubber tube, plastic 800 ml bottle, plastic bottle lid, plastic funnel, 2 x bags. [20] Mr McGrath indicated that he understood that both horses would be scratched that night. [21] Transcript of Cell phone Interview with George Burrows 13 March 2020 in the Green Shed at the stables of Nigel McGrath of George Burrows by Neil Grimstone and Oscar Westerlund was produced as an Exhibit by consent. Mr Burrows did not give evidence. [22] In the first interview, Mr Burrows told Mr Grimstone and Mr Westerlund that it was “stuff for its breathing” called ‘air supply’. When Mr Burrows asked if it was in accordance with the Rules, having said that he thought the horse was “Steel The Show” was running that night Mr Burrows answered, “probably not.” [23] Mr Burrows said that he had been there to do “tubing” the horse “very few times.” He agreed he was tubing the horse, that it was not ideal and that it was breaching the Rules. Transcript of Second Interview with George Burrows 17 March 2020 [24] The transcript of a second interview on 17 March 2020 with George Burrows, Neil Grimstone and Peter Lamb was produced as an Exhibit by consent. [25] Mr Burrows wanted his first statement to be disregarded as he had been smoking weed and drinking and did not want to be there. He agreed he could tube horses but denied ever tubing a horse of Mr McGrath’s. [26] In that second interview, Mr Burrows said he went to Mr McGrath’s premises the previous Friday about 5:00 pm to drop a couple of bridles off. Mr McGrath said he was a bit worried about his horse with a slight snotty nose and it was decided to give it some Air Support, a “herbal thing” to help its breathing. Mr Burrows said they went into the shed which is detached or remote because they did not want to be seen as it is against the Rules. He went under the trees so he could not be seen and Mr McGrath brought the horse around. Mr Burrows had got the tubing bag from Mr McGrath’s wash house in his home where it is kept. He said he did not know if the bag had a twitch in it but said it probably did with the Air Support and two boost tubes used to squirt it down with. Once he had the bag, Mr McGrath said to him “we’ll go to give it the Air Support.” [27] Mr Burrows was asked where was the bottle of air supply. Mr Burrows said it was still in the shed “in the far corner where he had taken it.” [28] Mr Burrows said the bottle was a “normal one.” He just “sucked it out and squirted it down” using the boost tube to squirt it on the horse’s tongue. [29] He said there was no plan with the other horse as there wasn’t any more air supply. [30] He agreed he could not be sure what the horse was given. He said he knew what Air Support smelt like as it has a strong eucalyptus smell and comes in a brown bottle. He did not see the label on the bottle which was used. He had administered the substance with the boost tube not the tubing gear in the bag. [31] Transcript of Kylie Williams, Racing Investigator and Scott Wallis, Chief Stipendiary Steward (Greyhounds) Visit to Mr McGrath’s stable 14 March 2020. [32] The following day, on 14 March 2020 Ms Williams and Mr Wallis visited Mr McGrath’s stable premises at 2:45 pm. On arrival, Ms Williams advised Mr McGrath that the reason they were there was to give him a Notice of Exclusion. She asked Mr McGrath to date it and she put the time on it at 2 56 pm. [33] Mr McGrath then said he was going to give her a statement on the Rule breach. Ms Williams explained that that she could only serve the Notice on him and that they had only one question: “would he give them the things he was using last night, the back pack, the twitch, the funnel, the tube and the bottle.” Mr McGrath said he would give them the bottle but not the tube or the twitch. [34] Mr McGrath was given a Notice of Exclusion from the Races but said he would not sign it. There was further discussion, but Ms Williams and Mr Wallis explained that they could only talk about the Exclusion Notice and ask for the items in the bag he had the previous day. Mr McGrath then admitted he had broken the 24 hour Rule but refused to hand over the bag or the items in it including the bottle. Ms Williams and Mr Wallis left at 3:02 pm. Dr A Grierson [35] Dr Grierson gave his evidence by AVL. He has worked as a racing veterinary surgeon for 20 years in both harness and thoroughbred racing. He was well versed in “tubing” and “milkshaking” from a veterinary point of view and physiologically, as it was not initially a prohibited substance or a prohibited procedure. [36] The mechanics of tubing required a funnel, stomach tube and a twitch which could be used to restrain the horse. It required two people as it could be difficult to hold the horse, the mixture and the tube. It is easier to stomach tube a horse than squirt with a syringe as a horse is able to be stomach tubed with any amount of fluid. [37] With regard to possible substances that could be administered within the time frame of 3 hours before a race as in this case, Dr Grierson identified EPO which is administered intravenously not via tubing but said the most common procedure was to tube alkalising agents in order to increase TCO2 levels. The TCO2 levels were set at a limit of 36.0, but under the Rule the level was limited by a guard band of 37.1. Tubing alkalising substances became a bad practice when horses were seen to perform better than their ability and is now banned internationally. [38] Dr Grierson believed that the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent and sodium bicarbonate was the most common. [39] When asked in cross-examination about Air Support, Dr Grierson said he was familiar with the company but not personally familiar with that preparation. As no analysis had been undertaken by NZ Racing Laboratory Service on Air Support, he was unable to say if it was prohibited. If it was administered within one clear day then it was unlikely to be detected. He accepted that two people could be required to administer 60 mls of Air Support via a Boost tube on the tongue for a fractious horse. [40] When asked if he could not rule out Air Support being administered to this horse, Dr Grierson said without a sample there was no way of being sure what it was. Dr Grierson said he had no idea if energy or stamina in horse was improved by Air Support. In response to a question from Mr Hall he agreed that there was insufficient evidence to say what the substance was. Respondent’s Evidence [41] Nigel McGrath read his evidential statement and answered questions in cross-examination from Counsel for the Informant and the Judicial Committee. [42] Mr McGrath has been a licensed trainer for over 20 years and has trained over 570 winners with $6,000,000 in stakes, including a win in the New Zealand Derby in 2018. [43] He owns his training establishment in Weedons. [44] Although he pleaded guilty to charge 1, namely attempting to administer a prohibited substance by way of nasal gastric tube, he denies that it was the prohibited substance alleged by the Informant which was administered to “Steel The Show” on 13 March 2020 and that any substance was intended to be introduced by way of gastric tube. He did commit a breach of the Rules by introducing or attempting to introduce a substance known as “Air Support” in an oral syringe commonly known as a boost tube, a substance that was vet approved and was not intended to improve the speed, stamina or courage of the horse. [45] The allegation that “he attempted to introduce an alkalinising agent via a nasal gastric tube in order to elevate the TCO2 levels of “Steel The Show” to improve his speed, stamina or courage is “not correct.” [46] Late afternoon on Friday, 13 March 2020 Mr McGrath said he was “getting organised for the races at Addington that evening.” He had “Cloud Nine” and “Steel The Show” engaged in the same race. [47] The horse “Steel The Show” has been marginally slower in recovering after fast work in the week leading up to 13 March blowing more than usual with phlegm and mucous in his nose. [48] Mr McGrath did not consider this too serious but more likely a symptom arising as a result of the abnormally dusty week which was dry and warm. He had been treating this horse with “Air Support”, a herbal remedy he had purchased from Equine 2000. It is a registered horse product which is marketed on the HRNZ website. [49] Mr McGrath said it had been approved by his veterinary surgeon who confirmed this in a letter to the Committee. According to Mr McGrath, it was a substance which contained no prohibited substances and was for the wellbeing of horses. [50] Mr McGrath said that while he was preparing the two horses, George Burrows called in to drop off some mounting bridles he had agreed to deliver earlier. They talked about the evening ahead for the two horses and it was during his discussion Mr McGrath said he “stupidly decided” to give Steel The Show some Air Support as per the manufacturer’s instructions in order to assist his wellbeing that evening and his subsequent recovery after the race.” [51] He accepted “fully that to do so was in breach of the one clear day Rule” and it was for that reason the free standing shed in a paddock behind the main block of stables was used because “we would not been seen.” [52] Mr Burrows was going to assist in introducing “Air Support” because “Steel The Show” can be difficult to handle and is a wilful horse. [53] Mr McGrath said his “motive was not financial or to improve the performance of the horse but rather to aid his post-race recovery.” Mr McGrath described a cupboard in the laundry of his house as “a dumping ground for storing stuff like supplements, empty syringes and tape.” A bag which has “Air Support” in it and equipment for salining of horses was also in this cupboard. Mr Burrows collected this bag from the cupboard and carried it into the shed. [54] Mr McGrath denied attempting to administer an alkalising agent. He said his horses were often swabbed at race meeting and have never returned TCO2 levels at or above the level of 36.0 millimetres per litre in plasma C +/- point for error and usually the levels returned were well below the threshold. [55] He emphasised that he would not put himself or his owners into such a situation. He acknowledged that he was disqualified in respect of three charges of administering a prohibited substance approximately 15 years ago. Mr McGrath said the substance he had administered at that time was “Propantheline” added to horse feed which he had bought from a chemist and cleared with his vet. He believed it did not breach the Rules. [56] Mr McGrath maintained that the Air Support was administered by Mr Burrows via a large plastic tube, commonly known as a boost tube for the oral administration of a paste and liquid substance. [57] Mr Burrows squirted the “Air Support” over the tongue of the horse. Neither a twitch nor a nasal gastric tube was used. There was no damp residue in any of the equipment apart from the boost tube. Mr McGrath said he found the boost tube together with the empty container of “Air Support” on the floor in the corner of the free standing shed where the administration had occurred, after the RIU staff had left. He picked up both items and put them inside his home. He produced both items as exhibits during the hearing. [58] Mr McGrath explained that he “did not want to part with the gastric tube, twitch and bottle because they had not been used by him or Mr Burrows. He said he told Mr Irving who was asking about the tube and twitch in the bag “there’s no substance so I didn’t do it. Out please.” [59] Mr McGrath said that when he led the horse out of the shed, he was “shocked to come face to face with a number of RIU employees.” He said he was overwhelmed at having been caught breaching the Rules, that is, the one clear day administration Rule and felt he had lost everything. His shock and bewilderment was such that he said he was not in the right state of mind at the time to discuss the matter with the RIU and I asked them to leave.” He did tell them to come back later and that he said, “I was also not prepared to part with any of my property and told them so.” [60] Mr McGrath believes that those intense feelings were due to the “stress” he has felt under since 4 September 2018 when the police arrived with search warrants as part of Operation Inca, involving himself and the persons associated with the Harness Racing industry. The only criminal charge against him was dismissed. However, subsequently he was charged by the RIU and pleaded guilty to a charge of improper driving. The penalty imposed was a six-month suspension. The psychological and economic impact on him has continued to today. [61] Mr McGrath accepts his conduct was obstructive due to his state of panic, shock and resignation and was in breach of the Rules. He regrets his behaviour because it inflamed the situation and resulted in the further charges to which he has pleaded guilty. He did expect the RIU veterinary surgeon would return and examine the horse which he was willing to have done but that did not happen. [62] Mr McGrath contacted Kylie Williams the following morning as he respected her and preferred to make a statement to her. When she visited his stables later that day with Scott Wallis, she told Mr McGrath they had been directed not to take a statement from him. [63] Mr McGrath said he has been licensed since he was 15 years old and never charged with offences relating to obstructing racecourse inspectors or refusing to make a statement. [64] His motivation to breach the Rule was solely based on his concern for the horse’s wellbeing. He was not motivated by financial gain as he had no financial share in “Steel The Show” and he does not bet on harness racing horses. If the horse had won the race, he would have earned approximately $400 only. [65] It was his belief that he breached the one day (24 hour) Rule by introducing or attempting to introduce a prohibited substance “Air Support” hence his guilty plea to charge 1. [66] In his statement, Mr McGrath said he “took immediate steps to hand over his Public Trainers Licence and move all the horses due to race in the near future to other trainers to help maintain public confidence in the industry and do the right thing in the circumstances. I very much regret my foolhardy actions. My whole working life has been devoted to the racing and training of magnificent horses. It is a seven day a week commitment to demanding work. However, it is a lifestyle that I am passionate about. I do not want to leave the profession. I believe I have more to offer the industry in the future and I ask for a further chance to prove I am not the cheat as portrayed. I am passionate about horse welfare and wellbeing. I have volunteered my time and resources to the agency HERO which is a recently launched initiative to assist the rehousing of horses after they have finished their racing careers.” [67] Mr McGrath produced an empty bottle of Air Support and a boost tube. Mr McGrath said the “Air Support” bottle and boost tube “lived” in the bag together with funnel, twitch and tube for salining. [68] Counsel for the Informant, Mr Dickey asked Mr McGrath about the improper driving charge penalty hearing in January 2020. At the penalty hearing Mr McGrath had apologised and told the Judicial Committee he was committed to adhere to the Rules of Harness Racing. However, in his evidence at this hearing, Mr McGrath denied responsibility for the Rule breach he had conceded in January this year. Mr McGrath’s response was that he believed he was not guilty of race fixing. [69] When asked by Mr Dickey about the 2004 charge for which he was disqualified for 18 months, Mr McGrath maintained the substance that was administered was an ulcer treatment used for horses. [70] When Ms Williams and Mr Wallis visited his stables the following day, Mr McGrath denied he was abusive or aggressive. He said he never touched or threatened them. [71] Mr McGrath’s explanation for telling both of them to get off the property and refusing to hand over the property the subject of this enquiry, as requested under the Rules was that he could not handle the situation and that he had asked them to come back later. He sought to deflect the responsibility for his response on a friend who was present and who he described as not helpful and if he had given Ms Williams and Mr Wallis the equipment that person “would have been even more abusive.” [72] Mr McGrath agreed that he knew that Mr Ydgren was the Chief Steward and in charge of the race meeting. He was asked why he did not respond to Mr Ydgren’s phone call and text in respect of the harness racing meeting on 13 March 2020. He admitted he did not respond and said there was no urgency in the text and no suggestion that if he failed to do so he would be in breach of the Rules of Harness Racing. Standard of Proof [73] The standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities (Rule 1008A of Rules and Rule 31.1 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Judicial Committee and Appeals Tribunal (JCA Rules). Analysis [74] On Friday, 13 March 2020 the horse “Steel The Show” trained by Mr McGrath was engaged in Race 8 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club meeting at Addington Raceway at 8:48 pm on Friday, 13 March 2020. There is no issue that Mr McGrath took the horse “Steel The Show” into a green shed some distance away from his stables in order to conceal the administration of a prohibited substance or that Mr Burrows a licenced stable hand was assisting him. Mr Burrows accessed the shed from under some trees to conceal his movements having got the tubing back pack from Mr McGrath’s wash house inside his house, where the bag is kept. [75] The tubing back pack belonging to Mr McGrath was located in the shed and contained tubing gear including a coiled rubber hose, a plastic funnel, a twitch and an empty 800ml plastic drink bottle containing residue. When Mr McGrath was surprised by the racing inspectors in the shed with Mr Burrows and the horse, he refused to answer further questions regarding the tubing gear and the identity of his associate. [76] The transcript of the video footage of Mr Burrows’ first statement records that he was assisting Mr McGrath to tube the horse “Steel The Show” with Air Support to assist the horse’s breathing. [77] When Mr Burrows asked if it was in accordance with the Rules, having said he thought the horse was “Steel the Show” which was running that night, Mr Burrows’ answer was “probably not’. [78] Mr Burrows said he had been there to do “tubing” the horse “very few times.” He agreed that he was tubing the horse, that it was not ideal and that it was breaking the Rules. [79] In his second statement, Mr Burrows clearly regretted making the earlier statement and sought to retract it on the basis he was under the influence of alcohol and cannabis. [80] Mr Burrows said he did not know what the substance was in the bottle as he did not look at the label and could not be sure that what he administered to the horse was in fact Air Support. When asked where the bottle was as it was not in the bag he said it was in the far side of the shed. He claimed that the substance had been administered using the boost tube. [81] Mr Burrows did not give evidence. We accept his account of the events of 13 March in his first interview when he was cooperating with the Investigators. Mr Burrows remained in the shed and in response to questioning admitted that they were about to “tube” the horse “Steel The Show” with what he called “Air Supply”. He acknowledged this was in breach of the Rules of HRNZ and that it was not the first time he had assisted in the procedure at Mr McGrath’s property. [82] We do not accept Mr Burrows’ subsequent claim that he gave the first interview while under the influence of alcohol and Cannabis and that he wished to retract what he said. In our view, the second interview was self-serving and a deliberate attempt on his part to discredit his first interview. We are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that he was in the shed for the purpose of tubing the horse “Steel The Show” assisting Mr McGrath. [83] Once the horse was caught and contained in its yard, Mr McGrath’s demeanour changed from being resigned and he became obstructive. He grabbed hold of the back pack held by the Investigators stating it was his private property and initially would not release it even though he was repeatedly advised that it was being seized as part of an investigation into a racing matter. [84] Mr McGrath refused to hand over the bag as requested by the racing Investigators and would not allow the racing Investigators to take it away. He immediately walked the horse from the shed and when confronted by another Investigator, either he let it go or the horse got loose resulting in it running towards the stable complex. [85] Although attempts were made by the Investigators to seize the tubing kit as evidence, Mr McGrath continued to object and requested that the Investigators leave his property and come back later. [86] The Investigators warned Mr McGrath repeatedly that they were there lawfully under the Rules of HRNZ and that his actions were making the matter much worse. Despite these warnings, Mr McGrath continued to strongly object. To avoid further confrontation and to comply with his request, the Investigators allowed Mr McGrath to recover his back pack and its contents and prepared to leave the property. [87] Ms Williams and Mr Wallis went to his stable the following day to serve an Exclusion Notice on Mr McGrath and request he hand over the tubing equipment from the previous day. Mr McGrath refused to provide the tubing equipment stating he would contact his lawyer and that the RIU could come back later. Mr McGrath’s explanation was that due to the abusive behaviour of a visitor to his stable, he was unable to comply with their instructions. We find his explanation unconvincing. [88] As a direct result of Mr McGrath’s deliberately aggressive and obstructive conduct and refusal to comply with the instructions of the RIU Investigators who were lawfully at his stables, no analysis could be carried out of the tubing equipment and the substance which was to be administered. [89] There is no issue the RIU veterinary surgeon on standby was also prevented from attending the stables to gather evidence and conduct tests on both “Steel The Show” and Mr McGrath’s other runner engaged that evening “Cloud Nine”. [90] We accept Dr Grierson’s evidence and his conclusion that the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent and that sodium bicarbonate was the most common. Although Dr Grierson acknowledged in cross examination in response to questions from Mr Hall QC, he could not rule out that the substance Air Support was being administered to the horse, he clearly stated that without a sample there was no way of being sure what it was. [91] Dr Grierson was familiar with the manufacturer but not with their product Air Support. He was aware of its contents but as no analysis had been undertaken by the NZ Racing Laboratory Service there was insufficient evidence to say what the substance was. [92] Properly qualified expert witnesses such as Dr Grierson are permitted to give opinion evidence on subjects within their area of expertise beyond the general knowledge of the Tribunal of fact provided a proper evidential foundation has been laid as in this case. [93] We find that there is a clear inference to be drawn from all of the evidence that the most likely substance which to be administered via a nasal gastric tube was an alkalising agent. [94] We do not accept either Mr McGrath’s or Mr Burrows’ evidence that the substance Air Support was to be squirted using a boost tube over the horse’s tongue. [95] No boost tube or bottle of Air Support such as the one Mr McGrath produced at the hearing was visible. Although Mr McGrath produced a bottle of Air Support and a boost tube as part of his evidence at the hearing, we find his actions to be unconvincing and self-serving. Mr McGrath was given every opportunity to hand over the boost tube and the bottle of Air Support to the racing Investigators for analysis not only on 13 March but on the following day, 14 March. [96] Mr McGrath’s explanation was that he was under considerable stress at the time as a result of previous investigation by the RIU and that on 14 March, the day after race day, he was not able to cooperate with the Investigators due to the conduct of another person who was present at his stable that day. [97] In our view, Mr McGrath’s evidence was unconvincing and self serving. Mr McGrath has been a licenced trainer since 2000. He was given every opportunity to cooperate with the RIU investigation, but on being located in the green shed with Mr Burrows, “Steel The Show” and tubing equipment after the horse had been recaptured, he deliberately embarked on an aggressive and disruptive course of action to disrupt the RIU investigation to the extent that neither the horse nor the contents of the tubing bag could be tested. As a direct result, the substance could not be analysed and the horse could not be examined by a veterinary surgeon on behalf of the Informant. Mr McGrath has never surrendered to the Investigators the bottle of Air Support and boost tube he claimed to be the substance and method of administration. [98] With regard to the transcripts of the two interviews with Mr Burrows and taking into account Mr Burrows did not give evidence, we find that in Mr Burrows’ first interview he was cooperative and he admitted that they were about to tube the horse “Steel The Show” with what he called “Air Supply.” He acknowledged that it was in breach of the Rules of HRNZ. Furthermore, it was not the first time he had assisted in the procedure at Mr McGrath’s property. [99] Having considered the strength of all the evidence, we are compelled to reach the following conclusions. We find that there is strong and clear evidence the substance was an alkalising agent taking into account Dr Grierson’s evidence, Mr McGrath’s actions in concealing the horse, “Steel the Show”, the tubing bag, himself and Mr Burrows in the shed some distance from the stables on raceday, the contents of the back pack which contained tubing equipment including a funnel, gastric tubing, twitch and 800ml bottle, the involvement of Mr Burrows, and Mr McGrath’s intentional and deliberate behaviour which included his refusal to answer the Investigator’s questions, his obstructive and aggressive behaviour towards the Investigators including directing the Investigators to leave his property. As a direct result of his conduct, Mr McGrath prevented any analysis of either the substance or the tubing gear in Mr McGrath’s back pack and any veterinary examination of the horse. [100] For these reasons, we are satisfied in respect of the disputed facts on the balance of probabilities that: (a) The substance to be administered was a solution of chemicals for the purpose of alkalising the blood or increasing the levels of TCO2 which is a prohibited substance; (b) The substance was attempted to be administered via a gastric tube; (c) The Respondent became aggressive and obstructive when the horse had been recaptured. Penalty [101] The Appeals Tribunal in RIU v Habraken, 13 May 2019, at [15] stated that: [15] The life blood of racing depends upon millions of dollars wagered in New Zealand. Loss of confidence of punters and the community in the integrity of the sport/industry inevitably carries grave risk to its wellbeing. [102] With regard to the charge of attempted administration of prohibited substance Mr McGrath has accepted through his plea of guilty that the substance attempted to be administered was a prohibited one. Rule 1004(6) contains an absolute prohibition on administering any substance whatsoever to a horse on a race day. [103] We agree with Counsel for the Informant’s submission that Mr McGrath’s motivation for doing so can only have been financial in order to enhance the horse’s performance. [104] Mr McGrath involved Mr Burrows, another licenced holder, in the deliberate administration of a prohibited substance to a horse which was to race three hours later. In RIU v Lawson, 13 May 2019 at [42] an Appeals Tribunal noted that involving other licence holders so as to place them in jeopardy of facing charges was an aggravating feature. [105] Dr Grierson’s expert opinion was that he believes the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent which improves a horse’s performance and is now banned worldwide. [106] Furthermore, such conduct has a significant impact on the racing industry’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare. The industry cannot maintain its social licence in order to continue to operate without maintaining high standards of animal welfare. [107] We agree with Counsel for the Informant’s submission that in addition to the attempted administration of a prohibited substance, Mr McGrath’s conduct when dealing with racecourse Investigators warrants a condign response. [108] Rule 1001 applies to actions involving some element of dishonesty, corruption, wilful neglect or breaches of duty or Rules, all serious racing offences. [109] The Appeals Tribunal of the Judicial Conduct Authority said in RIU v Lawson at [25]: Proceedings under the Rules are designed “not simply to punish the transgressor, but crucially are to protect the profession/public/industry and those who are to deal with the profession…The Harness and Thoroughbred racing “industry” is a profession where key participants are required to be licenced in order to practice in various ways within that sphere. Comprehensive rules of practice. behaviour, procedure and the like are set down in extensive detail in the Rules which govern the codes and behaviour. As with most professions, a careful internal disciplinary and regulatory process is set up. Those who practice within the professions (whether law, accountancy, medicine, teaching, real estate, and the like) are subject to sanctions for breaches of standards of conduct or rules designed to protect members of the profession as well as the public. Such sanctions can be at the highest end include removal from a profession for serious breaches of professional rules and standards involving dishonest or immoral conduct. Such behaviour if unchecked may greatly harm the reputation of the profession and bring it into disrepute”-that is the public loses confidence in it. [110] Mr McGrath knew that as a licenced trainer that the Rules of Harness Racing requires compliance with the horse Rules and cooperation with the RIU, the industry body charged with managing integrity issues. It is also important that all those in the industry are also deterred from acting in a similar way, contrary to the conditions of their licences and the Rules. [111] The Appeals Authority stated at [25] that disqualification is frequently imposed: Where the professional has acted dishonestly or unethically, or so far outside the standards required of him/her as to forfeit the privilege of working within the profession. Aggravating Factors of the Offending [112] There is no issue that the RIU Investigators who attended Mr McGrath’s stables on 13 March 2020 and were acting lawfully and reasonably and were entitled to take possession of the tubing gear Mr McGrath had concealed and to question Mr McGrath. Mr McGrath’s response was deliberately aggressive and obstructive culminating in him ordering the RIU Investigators off his property. We do not accept Mr McGrath’s evidence that it was not an outright refusal to cooperate, although it is correct that when he declined to be interviewed on 13 March 2020, he did say the twitch and nasal gastric tube had not been used. [113] We reject Mr McGrath’s evidence that he was in no state to be questioned at that time. Given his conduct we do not accept that the RIU Investigators could have arranged for a swab of the horse which was caught when they were present and secured it its stable. His statement was given to the Informant before he was charged with any offence. [114] Mr McGrath’s actions on 13 March 2020 and on the following day 14 March 2020 breached the Rules in ordering RIU Investigators off his property and refusing to supply information including the tubing equipment prevented the RIU Investigators obtaining the very evidence that resulted in the need for a disputed facts hearing. His deliberate actions prevented the RIU Investigators performing their functions and undermine the Rules and Licensing regime which ensure the integrity of the industry as a whole. [115] We do not agree with Counsel for Mr McGrath’s submission that while conceding that the (attempted) administration was deliberate, the nature of the substance and the manner of administration falls at the lower end of the spectrum because the substance is not a drug, rather a multi-herbal remedy which Mr McGrath believed would assist the horse’s recovery and wellbeing after a hard race rather than providing an unfair advantage to the horse. Dr Grierson’s evidence was that the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent and sodium bicarbonate was the most common. Mr Burrows’ confirmed that he was assisting Mr McGrath to “tube” the horse and that he knew it was breaching the Rules. He and Mr McGrath endeavoured to conceal their actions by taking the horse and tubing gear into a shed away from the stables. When discovered by the RIU Investigators, Mr McGrath refused to cooperate as required by the Rules in any way, including behaving aggressively and obstructing. [116] Further, was Mr McGrath’s deliberate and intentional actions in withholding evidence that prevented the Investigators gathering the very same evidence which has resulted in the need for the disputed facts hearing. We regard this as a serious aggravating feature. [117] In our view there are no mitigating factors relating to the offending. Aggravating Factors relating to Mr McGrath [118] Mr McGrath was suspended from driving for six months on 10 February 2020 having pleaded guilty an improper driving breach. While subject to the suspension from driving, he incurred the current breaches of the Rules as a licensed trainer. [119] In 2004-2005, Mr McGrath was disqualified for 18 months following a breach in which two horses tested positive for Propantheline Bromide, a performance enhancing substance referred to colloquially as “Blue Magic.” [120] The current breaches of the Rules occurred within a few months of the six month suspension from driving for an improper driving breach. Mitigating Factors relating to Mr McGrath [121] Counsel for Mr McGrath, submitted that Mr McGrath’s reaction to what occurred is significant, in that he indicated within a short time he would plead guilty to a breach of the 24 hour Rule and on 18 March 2020 provided a statement to the RIU which included advice that he intended to hand in his public training licence as a demonstration of his remorse and acceptance of the consequences of his actions on Friday, 13 March 2020. [122] Mr McGrath’s reaction was “off the cuff” and later very much regretted. He offered to make a statement and offered to be interviewed the following day but the RIU decided not to engage with him. [123] The attempted administration was not an attempt to gain an unfair advantage over other competitors and the horse was scratched so no actual loss was incurred by the punters although the owners lost the opportunity to a share of the prize money. [124] Mr McGrath’s Counsel submitted a 25% discount was appropriate for his plea of guilty and the attempted administration charge is clearly a less serious charge than an administration charge. [125] Mr McGrath is saddened and apologetic. He had admitted the charges and realises that the consequences of suspension or disqualification of his licence would put his family’s investment in horses and the training facility in jeopardy because he could not meet his business commitments without a training licence. He is passionate about horses and the sport which he loves. Since he became a Licensed Public Trainer, he has had many quality horses and a loyal and long standing customer base. He has trained winners in many of New Zealand’s feature races including the Great Northern Oaks and Trotting Derby, the NZ Derby Multiple Sires Stakes and Yearling Sales finals, the Young Guns, Breakers Stakes, NZ Jewels and over 20 Country Cups in the South Island. [126] With no other qualification or work experience he would find it difficult to obtain alternative employment. The complete loss of his business and income would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending, if a disqualification was imposed. [127] The Judicial Control Authority Penalty Guidelines suggest a three-year disqualification starting point is appropriate for a second offence of administering but that the starting point should be lowered significantly if the earlier offending was 15 years previously as in this case. Submissions as to Penalty [128] Counsel for the Informant seeks a disqualification of up to 10 years of Mr McGrath’s trainer’s licence if the substance administered to the horse “Steel The Show” was an alkalising agent and was introduced by way of a gastric nasal tube. [129] Counsel for the Respondent submits that the cases cited by the Informant namely RIU v Morgenrood  (RIU v B Morgenrood decision dated 9 June 2020) and the RWWA case do not involve raceday administration. The RWWA case is under appeal and the Morgenrood case was described by the Judicial Committee as “difficult to find any similar offending by a licenced rider.” Conclusion [130] The starting point for these three offences, before allowance is made for mitigating factors, must be sufficient to reflect the gravity of the offending, the interests of the industry, profession of harness racing as a whole and the need for deterrence, both specific and general. [131] This is a case where clearly the interests of the professional code/industry participants and the sport outweigh mitigating factors in deciding that disqualification is necessary. The evidence is largely uncontradicted and overwhelming. Mr McGrath attempted to administer an alkalising agent via a gastric tube to “Steel the Show” on raceday. In order to do this, he involved another licence holder, Mr Burrows. When surprised by the Investigators, Mr McGrath’s intentional aggressive and obstructive conduct undermined the Rules and the licensing regime and rendered the RIU investigation redundant in that they were unable to perform their core functions. If the industry cannot be effectively regulated, there are serious consequences of public confidence in the sport. In our view, disqualification is the appropriate penalty. [132] We agree with Counsel for the Informant’s submission that licence holders must not be given the impression that they can withhold or destroy evidence, so that they can argue the facts and receive a lesser penalty than otherwise would be appropriate. [133] Taking into account the submissions of Counsel for the Informant and Counsel for Mr McGrath, we adopt a global starting point of 10 years disqualification, which includes a small uplift for previous breaches of the Rules in 2004 and for further offending against the Rules while subject to a suspension as a driver imposed on 10 February 2020. [134] We take into account the fact Mr McGrath is suffering from severe stress and is genuinely remorseful. There will be very significant financial and personal implications for Mr McGrath, as a direct result of any suspension or disqualification. We also take into account his admission of the charges. [135] However, in respect of the mitigating factor we allow only a small discount given the overwhelming and largely uncontradicted evidence that Mr McGrath’s intention was to undermine the Rules and the licensing regime and render the RIU’s investigation redundant in that they were unable to perform their core functions maintaining the integrity of sport/industry and the publics confidence in it. [136] Taking into account all mitigating factors, we order that Mr McGrath be disqualified for a period of 8 years concurrently, in respect of the three charges. RIU Costs [137] The RIU is entitled to costs. The Informant’s submissions as to costs are directed to be filed within 10 days and the Respondent’s submission in response are to be filed within 10 days of receipt of the Informant’s submissions. JCA Costs [138] JCA costs are sought and will be provided to Counsel within 10 days from date of this decision. J Lovell-Smith CHAIR 

Since the indictment of more than two dozen thoroughbred and harness racing trainers, assistants, veterinarians, and pharmacists in connection with a horse doping ring this March, rumors have swirled that more names could be forthcoming in connection with the federal investigation. Speaking at a status conference for the case on Tuesday morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Adams told U.S. District Judge Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil that a superseding indictment could be around the corner, but did not provide details as to the timing. “We are looking seriously at superseding indictments,” said Adams. “For the moment, and I made this point at least to some defense counsel previously, the nature of what we're looking at is largely in the same kind of criminal conduct as what is in the current indictment. We're looking at expanding timeframes for certain of the conspiracies. We're looking at potentially adding different statutory charges with respect to certain of the defendants. What I do not anticipate for the moment is that those superseding indictments, if and when they come, would require the production of some substantial large set of materials not already produced to date or already in the queue of things we expect to produce.” A superseding indictment is one which replaces an existing indictment, and could add charges against already-named defendants and/or could name new defendants. Vyskocil reminded Adams that the court would not hold things up while the government finishes its investigation. Adams said he understood and that he would not ask to hold up the proceedings for that reason. The charges on the current indictments, which names former top trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, among others, focus on drug adulteration, misbranding, and conspiracy. The indictments claim a network of horsemen, veterinarians and pharmacy reps sold, distributed and used drugs in racehorses for the purpose of performance enhancement. Other than a potential superseding indictment, there are not likely to be many updates in the case until late fall. Currently, attorneys are going through the discovery process, meaning each side is requesting and providing requested evidence in the case. Adams said he believes his office will be able to provide the last of the discovery material requested by defendants by the end of September. Already, the office has provided some 90 gigabytes' worth of data to all defendants in three different volumes, and has fielded 20 additional individual requests. That data includes the results of 30 different search warrants, intercepted phone calls and text messages, geolocation information for various devices, email accounts, file transfer accounts, inventory lists, shipping records, veterinary records, drug promotional and marketing material, and much more. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still extracting data from devices like cell phones and tablets seized from defendants at the time of their arrests. Adams mentioned that labs inside and outside the United States had been asked to conduct testing on samples related to the case, although it was not immediately clear whether that referred to samples of substances seized in searches of pharmacies or biological samples from horses, or both. Those results were not all known to the federal government as of yet, and some defense attorneys expressed a desire to work out some sort of split sampling process where possible, acknowledging there was a finite amount of some samples available to test. After the government produces requested evidence, it is sent to a coordinating discovery attorney for organization and distribution. One defense attorney pointed out that it generally takes the coordinating discovery attorney roughly a month to process large document releases before they are given over to defense counsel, so a late September target for discovery completion means they will get a look at the last of the evidence in early November. Vyskocil scheduled a status conference for Nov. 19. Most participants on the call agreed it would be impractical to set a trial date or motion schedule until the defense has seen all the government's evidence against their clients. Read more about the federal indictments in this March 9 piece from the Paulick Report. By Natalia Ross Reprinted with permission of The Paulick Report

Columbus, OH – The U.S. Trotting Association announced Sunday (June 21) the relaunch of the USTA Integrity Tipline for industry participants to alert the organization of any concerns they have regarding integrity issues in harness racing. The toll-free number is 833/USTATIP (833/878-2847).  All callers have the option to remain anonymous or leave their contact information for a follow-up call from an investigator. “As indicated by USTA President Russell Williams in his published response to several prominent horsemen’s concerns about the care of horses and integrity in harness racing (read here), we are reestablishing our integrity tipline,” said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner in making the announcement. “With the plans for implementation of the Hanover Shoe Farms matching fund grant integrity initiative nearing announcement early next month, that could provide funding to assist with the costs of investigations for legitimate information obtained through the tipline,” added Tanner. When contacting the USTA Integrity Tipline, callers will be asked to provide as many specific details as possible regarding the situation that are important for the USTA to be aware of including names, horses, dates and locations as well as any other circumstances. from the USTA Communications Department

Department of Agriculture funded Veterinary Welfare Commission leads Irish Harness Racing industry to become world leader for horse welfare and anti-doping. In light of the Programme for Government set out by Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party to have funding to the equine industry be related to horse welfare outcomes the newly established Veterinary and Welfare Commission (VWC), funded by the Department of Agriculture to help regulate the integrity of the Irish Harness Racing industry, are announcing that all regulatory medical records for the Irish standardbred community will be moving from paper to a digital system. This will ensure that records can not be lost, damaged or tampered with once closed on the system greatly increasing transparency and accountability in relation to anti-doping and equine welfare for the sport of harness racing across Ireland. Together, thanks to support from the Irish Department of Agriculture, VWC and the Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) have commissioned world leaders in anti-doping and equine welfare software, Equine MediRecord, and are mandating this system for all of the horses that fall under their regulatory scope. While other regulators have switched to digital records for horses in training and competition, Harness Racing under the remit of the IHRA and its integrity arm, the VWC, is now the first equine sport to make it a mandatory regulation that digital medical records be maintained by breeders and keepers of standardbred horses, ensuring a continuous flow of data on the horse throughout its life. This is the first time that an equine industry will ensure that the records of a horse are digitally kept from birth to death. It is the first equine sport to do so, anywhere in the world. These changes ensure proper tracking of medical histories, making it easier for vets, trainers, keepers and owners to ensure better outcomes for horses under their care. This ensures that Irish Standardbred Industry is a world leader in animal welfare for all of its horses from birth to the end of their days.  “Funding for animal welfare in any sport that involves animals is always welcome and it is especially welcome in these formative years of the exciting sport of Harness Racing in Ireland” said Peadar Ó Scanaill, MVB, Chairman of the Veterinary and Welfare Commission. “Harness Racing in Ireland is growing and maturing into an extremely exciting equine racing sport and it has always set itself the highest and best of standards with regard to animal welfare from the very outset. It carries out all its racing on the track and it strives to instil public confidence in Harness Racing as it distances itself from any form of horses running on the road”. The VWC was established in 2015 by the IHRA as the integrity body within the sport of Harness Racing. Its funding comes from within the sport itself through a Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the Board of the IHRA with some financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture. Its aim is to ensure animal welfare reaches the highest standard possible and its mission is to instil public confidence both inside and outside the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland. Its role within the IHRA is to cover all aspects of the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland, with similar duties to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board for thoroughbred racing.  The VWC, with this newly announced Department of Agriculture funding, boasts some of the top equine veterinarians in Ireland. Peadar Ó Scanaill, the founding head of the VWC, was the President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland in 2018 - 2019. The Veterinary Council is mandated by the government to regulate and manage the practice of all veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in Ireland in the public interest. This means that Mr Ó Scanaill, MVB,  brings the perfect experience and expertise for this new regulatory role. He is joined by Marcus Swail, MVB, the founder of EquiVET and Team Ireland Equestrian Olympic team’s veterinary surgeon, who is the deputy head of the new VWC. The formation of the VWC is a great boost to ensuring and improving the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland.  Pierce Dargan, CEO of Equine MediRecord stated, “We are delighted to see further steps towards better equine care in the world. We are proud and delighted that the VWC and the IHRA decided to partner with us for this project and we hope this will be the beginning of meaningful change that helps improve outcomes for horses and the industry as a whole.” The Irish Harness Racing Association is the internationally recognised governing body of harness racing in Ireland. It is a member of the Union of European Trotting (UET) and World Trotting Association. The IHRA works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (in Dublin) to develop the sport both domestically and internationally. Equine MediRecord is the global leader in equine anti-doping and horse welfare software. It currently operates in Ireland, the UK and France and recently partnered with the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) in the UK to make the ARO the first in Europe and second in the world to mandate electronic medical records be kept by their registered trainers. Equine MediRecord based on the Curragh, county  Kildare, has availed of many Local Enterprise Office Kildare financial and advisory supports as well as representing Kildare in the National Final for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition. For more information about Equine MediRecord, see:    

In a bid to limit data used by offshore bookmakers, the New Zealand Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee has proposed that changes be made to the charges imposed for using betting information. The Select Committee introduced more than 30 changes to the Racing Industry Bill when it submitted its report to the House of Parliament, with the legislation only set to be signed into law a month later than originally intended. The Committee outlined plans to work with the three racing codes-New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) and Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ)-to ensure that measures are placed in place to allow offshore bookmakers to pay for the use of New Zealand racing data. Once the law has been codified, the committee suggested that Racing NZ, consisting of the three codes, be established which could assume some of the functions of the codes. The group has also suggested a TAB NZ Board reshuffle. On the recommendation of the codes the TAB is proposed to have three out of seven members appointed. A selection panel was introduced, and the Board ‘s overall required skill set would typically remain consistent with what was previously in the Bill. In a statement, the Racing Industry’s Transition Agency (RITA) said: “There are over 30 areas where the Committee have recommended changes and it will take us some time to work through and understand each of the different proposals. “Our initial view of the Select Committee’s recommendations is that the overall direction and structure of the Bill remains the same as it was before the Committee and is still in line with the direction of the Messara Report. “The TAB will be established as a pure betting, broadcasting and gaming entity, and the Codes will have greater roles and responsibilities for developing and promoting their sport.” By John Stewart Reprinted with permission of Inkedin

The investigation into Propulsion is ongoing and it is too early to determine what the outcome will be in all parts. For the time being, however, Svensk Travsport has decided to ban Propulsion from Harness Racing. Swedish Travsport also receives many questions regarding Propulsion's breeding operations and in doing so Propulsion still has a valid breeding certificate, based on previous breeding evaluation. A new breeding valuation can, according to Chapter 25. Section 6 Registration Regulations, become relevant when the investigation is complete. This means that already born offspring as well as the coverings made this year will not be affected, regardless of the final decision in the case. Swedish Travelsport will also launch an internal investigation to review the union's process and management. It will be led by an external independent party.

Harness racing driver Simon Lawson has had his appeal to cancel a two and a half year ban dismissed in a recent JCA hearing. Lawson copped a two and a half year ban from the JCA back in March of 2019 for betting on another horse in a race he was driving in.  Lawson did not intend to seek a licence to drive or train “at this stage” but wished the application to be granted to allow him “the ability to support his partner who is a llicensed jockey at the racetrack and her place of work.” Full details of the appeal hearing below:  BEFORE AN APPEALS TRIBUNAL OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY INFORMATION NUMBERS: A 8707 and A 8708 IN THE MATTER of the Racing Act 2003 AND IN THE MATTER of an application under Rule 1205 of the NZ Harness Rules of Racing BETWEEN SIMON LAWSON (Applicant) AND THE RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (Opposing – Respondent) Appeals Tribunal Hon J W Gendall QC (Chair) L N McCutcheon (Member) Hearing on the papers (by consent of the parties) at Levin on 27 May 2020 1. This was an application made on 10 May 2020 seeking cancellation of an order made by an Appeals Tribunal on 10 May 2019 for disqualification for a period of 2 years 6 months commencing on 11 May 2019 against Mr Lawson. His period of disqualification ends on 11 November 2021. 2. The background to the offending of Mr Lawson is fully set out in the decision of the Appeals Tribunal and does not need repeating here. We simply record that it involved two charges of Serious Racing misconduct in placing bets (successful as it happened) on two horses in Harness races in which Mr Lawson drove other horses who were unplaced. The Tribunal said that the offending struck at the heart of the integrity of the Code, and damaged its reputation with the community, being seriously dishonest. RULE 1205 3. The Rule relevantly provides: (1) A person who has been disqualified for more than 12 months or who owns a horse that has been disqualified for more than 3 months may apply in writing to the Appeals Tribunal for a cancellation of the remainder of the disqualification. (2) An application under sub rule (1) shall not be considered by the Appeals Tribunal until the expiration of: (a) 5 years from the date the disqualification was imposed where the person was disqualified for Life. (b) 12 months from the date the disqualification was imposed where the person was disqualified for more than 12 months. (c) [not relevant]. 4. The written submissions by Mr Lawson’s lay representative advanced on his behalf can be distilled to the following: (a) He has faithfully complied with the order for disqualification and adhered to the conditions attaching to disqualification and promptly paid the significant costs ordered against him. (b) The Rule provides a similar mechanism to that of the Criminal Justice System in that a person sentenced by a court will usually be entitled to parole after serving a certain period of that sentence so “is released”. (c) He has accepted his sanction and “learnt“ that the offending behaviour was unacceptable. His behaviour has been exemplary, and the Tribunal should have sufficient confidence that he will not reoffend. (d) He has not had an easy transition following the cessation of his training involvement but has found good employment in the thoroughbred breeding industry, has purchased a property with his partner, but has mortgage commitments. His partner is a licensed jockey and he is unable to support her in the sense of watching her ride in races and trackwork. (e) His disqualification penalty is disproportionate to a penalty of suspension imposed on another harness racing driver for an improper driving offence. (f) He does not intend to seek a licence to drive or train “at this stage” but wishes the application to be granted to allow him “the ability to support his partner at the racetrack and her place of work.” 5. The submissions advanced on behalf of the RIU opposing the application are summarised as follows: (a) He has served less than one half of the term of disqualification imposed and there are no significant changes of or existing circumstances that mandate cancellation. Otherwise the fundamental purpose of the penalty for serious offending would be undermined. (b) The penalty decision took into account the deliberate and dishonest actions, and the aggravating and personal mitigating factors relevant to Mr Lawson, was alive to the impact on him and his career, and allowed a 15 month discount for personal factors and his plea. (c) The decision highlights the view that where a professional forfeits the privilege of being licensed, it is inevitable that he and others will suffer effects but that is of little significance when viewed against the public interest. No evidence is presented as to how serving the remainder of a proper disqualification will seriously affect Mr Lawson. (d) Comparison with the Criminal Parole system is inappropriate. Even if parole does occur, the sentence remains extant until the time period ends and recall to prison can, and does, occur if breaches of conditions occur before the actual sentence ends. As the Tribunal said in its decision, “the imposition of sanctions does not necessarily equate to that of the criminal sentencing process”. (e) Generally, to cancel the significant balance of the sanction would severely undermine the penalty regime and public and industry confidence, if an applicant such as Mr Lawson could have a penalty reduced by 50% or more where no change or special circumstances exist. Any cancellation would also undermine the deterrent effect on other licence holders in the harness racing industry, and the need to uphold proper standards of conduct, being the key purpose of the penalty regime. 6. The representative of Mr Lawson was given the opportunity of making submission in reply to those of the RIU which we have considered and taken into account. These emphasise that Mr Lawson has changed his profession, is not seeking to obtain licences in the industry, has taken steps to rehabilitate himself. He submits that, if minded to do so, the Tribunal might cancel the disqualification for a later specific date with conditions imposed. The reply contends that another later case involving a harness racing driver/trainer imposing only a suspension (Mr Lawson says a “Claytons” penalty) illustrates how this disqualification is disproportionate. DECISION 7. We have given careful consideration to all the submissions of the parties set out above and, in evaluating all the circumstances, have determined that the application be declined. Our reasons follow. 8. Whilst the Rule provides the jurisdiction to make an application after 12 months, for the cancellation of the balance of a disqualification, it is solely a discretionary matter for the Tribunal, as no criteria are provided. It is the task of the Tribunal in evaluating all the material facts and circumstances and reaching a considered decision. The exercise of that discretion, of course, cannot be arbitrary or capricious, but a proper evaluation and consideration of all the relevant circumstances is required. These will vary widely, depending on the particular individual, the offending, the length of the disqualification and period of time remaining to be served, the interests of the profession/code/community, the purpose of the sanction and any matters of compassion – and there may be infinite other factors relevant to the exercise of a discretion such as this - there can be no limitation in advance of matters to be taken into account. It will always depend on the particular or unique circumstances that exist at the time of the application. An evaluation of all relevant matters is necessary. This we have done. 9. The analogy with the parole system sought to be advanced by the applicant is not apt. As the RIU says, a prison sentence is not cancelled if a person is granted parole. It continues to run until the sentence end date. A prisoner must be released from a “short term sentence” (a term of 2 years or under) after serving 50% of that term, and a prisoner sentenced to a longer term may be considered for parole after 1/3 of the sentence (unless the sentencing court fixes a longer non eligibility period) but only if he/she is deemed to not be an undue risk to the community and they are subject to conditions which if not met results in recall to prison, usually to serve the balance of the sentence. The regime for permitting cancellation of the balance of a professional disciplinary disqualification (whether cancellation of the right to practise law, medicine, accountancy, or participate in the Harness Racing Industry) is entirely different to the prison regime which relates, amongst other things, to removal of a person’s liberty. 10. Whilst the consequences of the penalty imposed have been, and will be, painful, in some respects Mr Lawson’s circumstances may have taken a turn for the better, in the sense that he has a good position at a thoroughbred stud, and he has a sound relationship with a partner and acquired a home. These are to his credit and continuation of the disqualification would not apparently impact upon those matters. As he argues he cannot watch her ride in races, (although no doubt could do so on TV) but this is an inevitable consequence of his offending and sanction. If he were hereafter to return to racecourses, and be seen there by licence holders and others after serving less than 50% of his sanction, those observers would be entitled to look askance and query the purpose of the racing judiciary function in imposing a deservedly stern penalty yet cancelling it after such a period. The argument of the RIU that this would tend to undermine the sanction regime is well founded. The remaining length of time to serve of the disqualification is a significant consideration. 11. The fact that Mr Lawson has paid the costs awarded against him and served his disqualification so far is a matter that carries lesser weight on the evaluation process for consideration, as he would have been expected to comply. We accept it does illustrate a proper approach, for without an applicant having done so, no application under the Rule could properly be made. 12. We do not accept the submission that a sanction imposed on another licence holder at a judicial hearing can have any relevance to this application for cancellation. It was for a different breach of a different rule, with a different (and very much lesser) penalty provision of suspension, and it did not involve any proven or admitted charge of a serious racing offence, (with the RIU accepting the penalty imposed). The Tribunal is well aware of the accepted facts and plea of the licence holder. Mr Lawson’s submissions and efforts to seek to draw some advantage by making comparisons are without avail. And, in any event, that “disproportionate” submission by Mr Lawson has no bearing on an application for cancellation under Rule 1205, which cannot be used in a roundabout way to appeal the penalty imposed. 13. The essence of Mr Lawson’s wish to have his term of disqualification now cancelled appears to be his natural desire to support his partner as she rides. But in evaluating this, and all the other past and present circumstances of Mr Lawson, we are not persuaded that the discretion to cancel the balance, namely 18 months, of the 2 years 6-month disqualification should be exercised. We do not see that the provisions in Rule 1205 enable the Tribunal to adopt the process, suggested in Mr Lawson’s reply, of fixing a later date for cancelling the disqualification, with conditions. The Rule is quite clear. 14. Accordingly, the application is dismissed. There is no order as to costs. Hon J W Gendall QC Chair 29 May 2020

On 28 May 2020, the Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) considered a charge issued by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards against licensed trainer-driver David Aiken under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1). AHRR 190(1) reads as follows:      A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge related to a urine sample collected from the horse ‘Divine Diva’ after it won Race 8, the ‘Alabar Pace’, at the Shepparton harness racing meeting on 1 November 2019. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported the sample contained arsenic in excess of the allowable threshold. Mr Aiken pleaded guilty to the charge before submissions on penalty were heard from the HRV Stewards and Mr Aiken. Penalty Mr Aiken was fined $2000, with $1500 of that fine suspended for a period of 12 months. The VRT also ordered that, under AHRR 195, ‘Divine Diva’ be disqualified from Race 8 at Shepparton on 1 November 2019 and that the placings be amended accordingly. Further to that, the VRT ordered that under AHRR 200(1) any prizemoney won by ‘Divine Diva’ from the race be returned. VRT Panel: Judge John Bowman (Chairman) and Mr Robert Abrahams The written decisions of the VRT can be found here. (Please note that VRT Decisions will generally be published within 7-10 days of the date of hearing)

The Australian Anti-Doping Authority has taken an interest in the family of Bronson Xerri and its colourful history as it investigates criminal links around the supply of anabolic steroids following the Cronulla teenager’s positive drugs test. Xerri, 19, has been provisionally stood down and is facing a suspension of up to four years after returning a positive A-sample to the banned substances exogenous testosterone, androsterone, etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol when target tested following a tip-off last November. While the doping violation is yet to be confirmed with a B sample, the attention of ASADA investigators is now very much on trying to establish whether there are criminal links to the distribution of the substances found in Xerri’s system. It was a year-long Australian Crime Commission investigation into sports, prohibited substances and organised crime that preceded the Cronulla and Essendon doping scandals in the last decade. According to a source with knowledge of ASADA's Xerri probe, there is a particular interest in the player's family. The Herald can reveal the Sharks youngster’s 28-year-old brother Troy was sentenced to an aggregate term of five years imprisonment in 2014 over drugs charges. Troy was initially one of eight men, including two teenagers, who were charged over drugs supply in south-west Sydney eight years ago. An array of illegal substances from prescription drugs including steroids, valium and xanax, ammunition and a bayonet knife were seized during raids on premises in Merrylands, Greystanes, Ermington and Granville. Police also found more than $50,000 in cash. It resulted in Troy Xerri facing Parramatta Local Court on charges of supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and take part in supply of a prohibited drug. His jail term included a non-parole period of two years and six months. ASADA investigators seized Bronson Xerri’s phone briefly this week to download data from it. A call to the Xerri home on Friday went unanswered. Xerri has previously spoken of the importance of his family, which has connections to the harness racing industry, during his rapid rugby league rise. His other older brother Dylan presented him with his maiden first-grade jersey before his NRL debut last year. To read the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click on this link.

RWWA Stewards have today concluded an inquiry into an allegation that prior to Race 3 at Gloucester Park on 24 January 2020, Trainer/Driver Mr Clinton Hall made an improper statement/s to Trainer/Driver Mr C. Saligari, who had a runner engaged in the race, with regard to the tactics and handling of that runner. As a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, the inquiry was conducted via teleconference. At a hearing conducted on 21 April 2020, Mr C. Hall had pleaded guilty to the following two charges under Harness racing Rule 238 and 187 (2), which state; 238. Failure to comply with orders A person shall not fail to comply with any order, direction or requirement of the Controlling Body or the stewards relating to harness racing or to the harness racing industry. The particulars of the charge being that on 31 January 2020, Mr Clinton Hall, being a registered person with RWWA, failed to comply with the direction of Steward, Mr Borovica, the RWWA General Manager of Racing Integrity, by not surrendering his mobile telephone, as directed in writing in a letter from Mr Borovica dated 28 January 2020. And; 187.2 Offences – inquiries A person shall not refuse to answer questions or to produce a horse, document, substance or piece of equipment, or give false or misleading evidence or information at an inquiry or investigation. The particulars of the charge being that during the course of an inquiry conducted on 4 March 2020, Mr Clinton Hall, being a registered person with RWWA, refused to answer questions in relation to the subject matter of the inquiry. At the same hearing, Mr C. Hall had pleaded not guilty to a charge under harness Racing Rule 227; 227. Offering money or other inducements A person shall not give or offer any money or other inducement improperly to anyone employed, engaged or participating in the harness racing industry. The particulars of the charge being that on 23 January 2020, Mr Clinton Hall, being a registered person with RWWA, during a telephone call, did improperly offer licensed trainer Mr Craig Saligari $2000.00 as an inducement to hand up the lead on CROCODILE KID engaged in Race 3 at Gloucester Park on 24 January 2020. After hearing submissions in respect to a defence to the above charge from Mr C. Hall, Stewards adjourned and after deliberation concluded that he had breached Rule 227. The inquiry resumed on 12 May 2020 in order to hear submissions on the question of penalty to all three charges where further evidence was advanced by Mr C. Hall. RWWA Stewards have now completed their deliberations and the following penalties have been imposed: Charge 1 – Harness racing Rule 238 – Failure to comply – penalty – 2 years disqualification. Charge 2 – Harness racing Rule 187 (2) – Failing to answer questions – penalty – 1 year disqualification. Charge 3 – Harness racing Rule 224 – Inducement – penalty – 5 years disqualification. Having regard to the principle of totality and whether or not the periods of disqualification imposed should be partially or wholly concurrent in accordance with Rule 257, Stewards determined that all 3 penalties of disqualification, in the circumstances, should be served cumulatively. In addition, Stewards have also directed that the total disqualification of 8 years will be backdated to when Mr C. Hall was first stood down on 31 January 2020. Therefore the total of 8 years disqualification will expire at midnight on 30 January 2028. In considering penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: The seriousness of each individual offence. The circumstances surrounding the commission of all offences. Mr Hall’s guilty pleas to two charges. The strong need for both specific and general deterrence to deter similar conduct. The potential damage to the Harness Industry of WA due to Mr Hall’s deliberate actions. Mr Hall’s personal circumstances at the time. Previous similar penalties issued Australia wide. In relation to the same inquiry and as previously advised that once Mr C. Hall’s inquiry was concluded, Trainer/Driver Mr C. Saligari would be required to appear before the Stewards in order to continue with his involvement. A notice in connection with this matter will be issued in the near future.   RWWA

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

To prepare for the return to harness racing, the AGCO is actively reviewing Ontario's horse racing rules and regulations to ensure responsible measures are taken to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Our Racing Officials have also worked with a number of industry stakeholders including racetrack management, horsepersons' associations, veterinarians, and wagering bodies to seek input and address concerns related to the start of racing. As a result of these discussions, and pursuant to s. 2 of the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 and the Rules of Racing, the Registrar will temporarily amend a number of rules in order to accommodate the return to racing and ease industry burden, while also ensuring welfare for equine and human athletes and other racing participants. The AGCO will closely monitor the impacts of these temporary changes to determine how long these measures will be in effect and to ensure they are meeting their desired outcomes. The AGCO will be flexible in the event that any of the measures identified requires further amendment in order to uphold the health and safety of horse racing participants and racehorses. In addition, the AGCO will continue to work to release additional changes that pertain to racing activities in the coming weeks.  

On 23 December 2019, licensed trainer-driver Ellen Tormey and licensed trainer-driver Glenn Douglas both applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the findings and penalties imposed on each of them by the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals & Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 19 December 2019. The details of the HRV RAD Board matter in respect of both Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas can be viewed here, while the further HRV RAD Board Media Release regarding Ms Tormey can be found here. On 19 May 2020, VCAT handed down a decision in relation to the applications of Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas.  VCAT Senior Member Dea found that VCAT has no jurisdiction in the proceeding and that it was appropriate that the application be dismissed under section 75(1)(a) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic). Senior Member Dea also found that it was appropriate for the stay orders made on 23 December 2019 to be set aside. The full decision of 19 May 2020 can be viewed here. On 20 May 2020, Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas both applied to VCAT to have the operation of the tribunal’s orders of 19 May 2020 stayed pursuant to section 149(1) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic). Subsequently, VCAT Senior Member Dea ordered that the tribunal's orders of 19 May 2020 be stayed until the determination of the appeal or further order of the Tribunal or the Court on condition that the applicants file and serve any appeal by 4pm on 17 June 2020.

Harness Racing South Australia Stewards, on Wednesday 6th of May 2020, concluded an inquiry into comments made by Mr Todd Weidenbach on social media platform Face Book. Stewards found Mr Weidenbach guilty of a breach of Australian Harness Racing Rule 248 which states: “A person shall not say, publish or write or cause to be said, published or written anything malicious, intimidatory or otherwise improper about the Controlling Body, its members and employees or the Stewards or anyone else associated with the harness racingindustry.” The particulars being that comments, relating to the controlling body, made by Mr Weidenbach, on the social media platform Face Book were improper. After considering submissions provided by Mr Weidenbach and after having regard to the following relevant factors: • A copy of the comments on Face Book. • Mr Weidenbach’s admission of the breach. • The need for general and specific deterrence. • Mr Weidenbach’s personal circumstances Stewards believed the appropriate sanction was a $400.00 fine, $200.00 suspended for 12 months, provided there are no further offences under this rule during that period. The Stewards firmly remind all participants of the need to be mindful of any content or comments they elect to put on any social media platform. The Stewards will not tolerate unacceptable commentary directed at the Controlling Body, its members, employees, the Stewards or any one associated with the Harness Racing Industry. Failure to adhere to these expectations will result in significant penalties being imposed. For further information please contact: SIMON EWEN | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (08) 8285 0700 •

WASHINGTON, PA, May 15, 2020 -- After 11 days of silence, PA Gov. Tom Wolf responded to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission (PHRC) on when it could resume harness racing in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for horsemen, his response was not what we wanted to hear: "As part of this reopening effort, we foresee horse racing reopening when counties enter the green phase, like other entertainment (casinos, theaters, etc). I commend the Commission's efforts to implement mitigation efforts for those who are continuing to care for the horses at this time, and forethought in planning for how to address public health and safety as it relates to each phase of reopening." To read Gov. Wolf's full letter to the PHRC, visit The Meadows Stadardbred Owners Association (MSOA) has responded to Gov. Wolf with the open letter below: Dear Gov. Wolf: In your letter to PHRC, you lump racing with other large venues, such as casinos and theaters. The reality is that horse racing occurs outdoors and can easily follow CDC guidelines; because our trainer/drivers and caretakers must exercise, feed and care for their horses every day, we're already on the backside, and we're already following CDC safety guidelines. And those guidelines are working. We've had no COVID-19 positives -- not a single one -- in our paddock and backside areas. Moreover, unlike other sports, horse racing can be conducted without spectators. Fans can watch the races and wager from a variety of platforms, including phone and computer. Since racing at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino was shut down on March 16, horsemen and horsewomen have been without income. Yet because horses continue to need food, bedding, exercise and veterinary care, expenses have continued. While other small businesses can cut costs and furlough staff, racing stables cannot do the same. Costs for upkeep of a single Standardbred can reach $2,500 per month -- and there has been no income to offset this. Many of us have applied for unemployment compensation and government loans; some have yet to hear back or receive any funding to help us through this unprecedented time. Consider the plight of D&G Stables, operated by Dean and Glenda Collins at the Meadows. Of the nine horses in its stable, D&G owns seven outright, meaning there are no outside owners to help them meet their significant monthly bills. Right now, this situation is altogether typical. Norm Parker, who trains 30 horses at the Meadows, puts it this way: "If we have a reopening date we could shoot for. our horses will be ready to race and start making money again. We are hoping to reach the 'green' phase and start earning a living again. We'll be able to pay our vendors. pay for hay and feed, and it will make everyone feel a little bit better." Currently, 90 percent of the people needed to resume live racing at The Meadows are already reporting to the backside and working every day. Trainer/drivers are here. Caretakers are here. Track and facilities maintanence staff are here. Security personnel are here. Resumption of racing would require about 20 additional people -- and these would be at scattered sites. State veterinarians and other PHRC personnel would be on the backside, but state judges would be at their office in the main casino building. The TV production crew would be in that bulding or outdoors while pari-mutuel clerks -- to handle phone wagers -- would work in a completely separate facility. Thus, the population on the backside, where stringent CDC measures already are in place, would be increased by only a few people. In light of all this, the MSOA respectfully requests that you reconsider your timeline and authorize immediate resumption of live racing, without spectators, at The Meadows. Indeed, our neighboring state of Ohio has done just that, announcing that live racing in Ohio can resume on May 22. Similarly, Indiana and Ontario have announced that live racing at their tracks will resume in June. If you authorize the reopening of racing at The Meadows now, you will immeasurably aid our horsemen and horsewomen, provide a much-needed form of entertainment for Pennsylvanians and, since the Commonwealth receives a commission on every wager, restore a key revenue stream to the state. And you'll accomplish this without adversely affecting public health and safety. Respectfully, Richard G. Gillock, President Meadows Standardbred Owners Association The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is a nonproft oganization that represents the interests of approximately 700 Standardbred trainers, drivers, caretakers and owners at The Meadows. In addition to providing horses to race at The Meadows, MSOA administers such member-centric services as health insurance and retirement programs for horsemen and horsewomen. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have concluded an inquiry into the conduct of drivers Haydon Gray (Just Oscar) and Derrick Krafft (Singing The Girl) following the running of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020. This matter was initially adjourned after taking evidence from Mr Gray, Mr Krafft, Gary Donaldson (Angski) and HRV Starter Mr Jason Fino.  As a result of the evidence adduced during the initial inquiry submissions were sought from Mr Gray as to whether the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 183(b) should be invoked. After consideration of these submissions from Mr Gray, Stewards ordered that in accordance with AHRR 183(b) he not be permitted to drive in races and trials until the completion of this inquiry. During the adjournment evidence was also taken from officiating Clerk of the Course Mr Jesse Andersen.  At the resumption of the inquiry further evidence was taken from Mr Gray and Mr Krafft. Submissions were also heard from Mr Gray’s representative Mr Rob O’Connell. After considering all the evidence Mr Gray was issued with 2 charges, and Mr Krafft 1 charge, under the AHRR.   Haydon Gray - Charges Issued Charge 1 Charge 1 was issued under the provisions of AHRR 231 (2) which states: 231. (2)  A person shall not misconduct himself in any way.  The particulars of the charge were: That upon pulling up at the completion of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020, when the driver of Just Oscar, Mr Gray misconducted himself by engaging in a verbal altercation with Derrick Krafft, driver of Singing The Girl. Mr Gray pleaded guilty to the charge as issued. Charge 2 Charge 2 was issued under the provisions of AHRR 156(6) which states: 156. (6)  A whip shall not be used so as to obstruct, strike or endanger another driver or horse. The particulars of the charge were: That upon pulling up at the completion of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020, when the driver of Just Oscar, whilst engaged in a verbal altercation with Derrick Krafft, driver of Singing The Girl, Mr Gray used his whip in a backhand motion to strike Mr Krafft. Mr Gray pleaded guilty to the charge as issued. Derrick Krafft - Charge Issued Mr Krafft was issued with a charge under AHRR 231(2) which states: 231. (2)  A person shall not misconduct himself in any way.  The particulars of the charge were: That upon pulling up at the completion of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020, when the driver of Singing The Girl, Mr Krafft misconducted himself by engaging in a verbal altercation with Haydon Gray, driver of Just Oscar. Mr Krafft was found guilty of the charge.   Penalties Imposed Submissions on penalty were heard from Mr Gray and Mr Krafft. Submissions were also advanced on behalf of Mr Gray by his representative Mr O’Connell.   Haydon Gray In assessing penalty Stewards took into account: Mr Gray’s forthright evidence, immediate admissions and guilty plea entered; Mr Gray’s industry offence record; Mr Gray’s current health and financial circumstances which were supported by documentary evidence; The circumstances of the offence under AHHR 231(2) where Mr Gray was the instigator of the verbal altercation; The circumstances of the offence under AHRR 156(6) notably the low force and the backhand manner in which the whip was used which resulted in no injury being sustained; Deterrence factors in that any penalty imposed must demonstrate that such conduct will not be tolerated. Accordingly, Stewards imposed the following penalties: Charge 1 – AHRR 231(2) $1,000 fine with half of the penalty suspended for a period of 2 years providing no further offences under the conduct related rules during that period. This penalty was inclusive of a previously suspended $250 fine. Charge 2 – AHRR 156(6) 12 month suspension of Mr Gray’s licence to drive in races. Mr Gray was advised that the final 3 months of this penalty may be suspended should he provide evidence of continued attendance before professional counselling services to the satisfaction of the Stewards.   The commencement of this suspension was backdated to begin at midnight on 30 April 2020, the date on which Mr Gray was first stood down. Derrick Krafft Submissions on penalty were heard from Mr Krafft. In assessing penalty Stewards took into account: Mr Krafft’s forthright evidence; Mr Krafft’s industry offence record which displayed no prior offences over a very length period; The circumstances of the incident whereby Mr Krafft was retaliating to comments directed to him; Deterrence factors and that any penalty imposed must demonstrate that such conduct will not be condoned. Stewards accordingly imposed a fine of $500 with half of the penalty suspended for a period of 2 years providing Mr Krafft does not breach the conduct related rules during that period.   Harness Racing Victoria

1 to 16 of 2467
1 2 3 4 5 Next »