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The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190(1) against licensed NSW trainer Mr Michael Day (Jnr). ARHR 190(1) reads as follows:  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under ARHR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mr Day related to a pre-race blood sample collected from the horse ‘Fake Art’ prior to it placing 2nd in Race 9, the ‘Cobram Lions Club Pace’, at Cobram on 7 May 2015. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the blood sample revealed the sample to contain a prohibited substance, namely alkalinising agents as evidenced by a total carbon dioxide (TCO2 ) concentration in excess of 36.0mmol/L in plasma. The Racing Science Centre in Queensland reported confirmation of this finding in the reserve portion of the relevant blood sample. Mr Day pleaded guilty to the charge before the HRV RAD Board heard submissions on penalty from the HRV Stewards and Mr Day. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered the nature of the substance involved, other previous cases involving the substance in Victoria, Mr Day’s evidence that he could not explain the finding, Mr Day’s early guilty plea and cooperation throughout the investigation, Mr Day’s offence record in that he had previously breached the same rule in 2006 for an elevated TCO2 level and his licence history in that he had held a training licence for a period of approximately 10 years and been involved in the sport for an even longer period. In considering all of these matters, the HRV RAD Board imposed an 18 month disqualification upon Mr Day (Jnr). The RAD Board ordered the disqualification commence with immediate effect. The HRV RAD Board also ordered that ‘Fake Art’ be disqualified from Race 9 at Cobram on 7 May 2015 and that the finishing places be amended accordingly. Harness Racing Victoria

Harness racing chiefs are pushing for a new rule to prohibit the administration of alkalising agents for one clear day before a horse races to stamp out the practice of "half-shaking." The move is a precursor to the introduction of far tougher penalties for high bicarb levels and is expected to generate the most debate at the annual conference of racing clubs in Christchurch next month. The remit, recommended by the Racing Integrity Unit and the equine codes' veterinary advisor Dr Andrew Grierson, seeks to amend the current rule which prevents alkalising agents being given on raceday. The "milkshaking" of horses has been a significant threat to the integrity of the industry since its height in the 1990s when unscrupulous trainers loaded their animals up with bicarb to stop the build-up of lactic acid and delay muscle fatigue. But while high levels are rare these days, persistent cheaters have been known to give lower doses, known as "half-shakes". And it had been shown internationally that by prohibiting the administration of alkalising agents on the day prior to the race, the incidence of "half-shaking" is significantly reduced. In most horses, the beneficial effect of a milkshake peaks six hours after administration and the TCO2 level returns to normal after 12 hours.  The rule change is designed to bring New Zealand into line with overseas racing jurisdictions and further enhance stakeholder confidence in the harness industry. Grierson believes now that the TCO2 threshold has been raised to 36 - and trainers aren't prosecuted unless the level is over 37 - the next step is to bring in the one clear day restriction so "there was not a shadow of doubt that breaches signalled "intent". "The previous system wasn't working because we were still getting TCO2 anomalies occurring and the one thing we don't want is to have innocent people being charged." Grierson said the chances of a TCO2 level of 37 being a naturally occurring event were one in two million and, at the actionable level of 37.1, the chances were one in 3.9 million. The stats were one in 5893 million for a level over 38. "A lot of people in the industry believe the JCA shold adopt penalties reflecting those statistical odds," said Grierson who believes the authority is receptive to the call. Grierson said under the present rule it was possible for cheats to shake a horse the night before raceday in the hope its level would still be raised slightly for competition. Ironically, there was no data to support the theory that "half-shaked" horses performed better. Horses with levels of 34-35 did not win more races than those with levels closer to the national mean of 30.6. And the levels of horses who finished in the first five were not higher than the also-rans. "There is no medical justification for treating your horse that close to a race and, if you have to, is your horse suitable to race anyway?" Horseman should have no concern that the rule might impinge on their animals' welfare by preventing traditional treatments when away at a two-day meeting. If a trainer felt a horse who'd raced say on a Friday needed a drench the next day to help it recover for a Sunday race, they could still seek an exemption from a stipendiary steward. The clear move in international circles was to extend the previously accepted no-treatment-on-raceday to one of no treatment for one clear day before racing. Already Australian authorities had moved to make it illegal to administer any cobalt-raising supplement for one clear day before competition. In other remits to go before the conference: ■ It will be an offence for a person to not only acquire, but attempt to acquire, an out-of-competition banned substance. Those substances are the ones for which there is no therapeutic reason for use at any time. ■ Horses injected with corticosteroids in the preceding eight days will be banned not only from racing but also from being trained on a club-run track. While a valuable way of managing inflammatory joint disease, corticosteroids can be undetectable in urine but still having an effect, thereby hiding impending failure and increasing the risk of catastrophic events.   ■ The 30 metre distance stipulation for horses being disqualified if their sulky wheels track inside the marker line will be removed. The rule change seeks to have horses able to be put out if they are deemed to have merely gained an advantage, rather than focusing on the distance covered inside the markers. Judicial committees would have more discretion to deal with individual cases. Horses whose wheels go inside the markers trying to force a run they are not entitled to inside the passing lane could then be disqualified, regardless of distance travelled.  And, on the other hand, horses three back on the markers, who go inside markers but cannot possibly benefit from it, do not have to be automatically put out.    ■ To clarify a rule introduced last year,  the connections of a horse which is interfered with can seek compensation from the owners of  the culprit, but only if its chances of receiving higher stake money are prejudiced. Owners have until 30 minutes after the last race to lodge an information with the stewards who may order that a portion of the stake money earned by the transgressor be paid to the victim. Under the new rules, horses cannot be promoted ahead of those who interfere with them unless it can be proved they would have beaten that runner home without the interference. Barry Lichter

Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards today conducted an inquiry into a report received from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory that plasma Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) above the prescribed threshold was detected in a pre-race blood sample taken from OUR RED SKY NIGHT NZ prior to it running in race 6, THE GARRARDS HORSE AND HOUND PACE (1609 metres) conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday 7 July 2015. The “B” sample was confirmed by Racing Analytical Services in Victoria. Mr Wardle appeared at the inquiry and presented evidence regarding the training of OUR RED SKY NIGHT NZ and his husbandry practices. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis and expert evidence from Harness Racing NSW Regulatory Veterinarian Dr Wainscott was also presented. Mr Wardle was issued with a charge pursuant to Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4) for presenting OUR RED SKY NIGHT NZ to race not free of a prohibited substance. Mr Wardle pleaded guilty to that charge. In respect of the charge under Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4), Mr Wardle was disqualified for a period of 3 years 9 months to commence from 10 July 2015, the date upon which he was stood down. Mr Wardle was granted 7 days to attend to the affairs of his stable. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; This was Mr Wardle’s 2nd offence for Prohibited Substance offences;Class 2 Prohibited Substance;The level of 38.6 mmol/L detected;Mr Wardle’s licence history and other personal subjective facts. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, OUR RED SKY NIGHT NZ was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Reid Sanders - HRNSW  

Racing Queensland (RQ) Stewards today conducted an inquiry into a report from the Queensland Government Racing Science Centre (RSC) that a blood sample taken from A Good Chance at the harness racing meeting at Albion Park on 16 May 2015 prior to it competing in the Seymour Nursery Pace 3YO Colts and Geldings Final returned an elevated total plasma carbon dioxide (TCO2) concentration of 36.0 mmol/L. Evidence was today taken from licensed trainer Mr Donny Smith and owner Mrs Maureen Smith. Explanations were tendered regarding feeding and husbandry practices leading up to the race in question. Evidence was also provided by Dr Bruce Young, Manager, Veterinary Services at the RSC. Submissions tendered by Dr Young suggested that an elevated total plasma carbon dioxide concentration will equilibriate within 24 hours. This evidence did not support Mr Smith’s assertion that the elevated level of TCO2 was due to factors such as excitement, dehydration and having a second race start within the week, which Mr Smith identified as the only difference to the horse’s normal racing routine. After considering all the available evidence Stewards issued Mr Smith with a charge pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 193 (3) which reads: “A person shall not administer or allow or cause to be administered any medication to a horse on race day prior to such horse running in a race.” Stewards were mindful of Rule 193 (6) which states: For the purposes of this rule medication means any treatment with drugs or other substances.” The particulars of the charge being that Mr Donny Smith, as the licensed trainer of A Good Chance when it raced at Albion Park on 16 May 2015, did administer or allow or cause to be administered medication, namely an alkalinising agent, to that horse on race day. After considering further submissions, Stewards were of the view that on the balance of probability the charge could be sustained and found Mr Smith guilty of the charge as issued. In determining the matter of guilt Stewards placed significant weight on the expert evidence provided by Dr Young whose opinion is based on peer reviewed scientific research and statistical analysis. This evidence supported the notion that the only credible explanation for the elevated level of TCO2 detected in the blood sample taken from A Good Chance was by way of administration of an alkalinising agent on race day. Stewards also took into consideration the analysis of a resting blood sample taken from A Good Chance on 4 June 2015 which revealed a TCO2 concentration of 27.3 mmol/L, and the fact that all other race day blood samples taken from A Good Chance returned TCO2 levels within the average range. When assessing an appropriate penalty Stewards accepted that the measurement of 36.0 mmol/L and the confirmatory reading of 35.5 mmol/L did not give rise to a positive sample, however a positive result is not required when Stewards consider whether a person is in breach of AHR Rule 193 (3). Mr Smith’s previous unblemished record over an approximate 20 year period, his personal circumstances and penalty precedents for a breach of this rule were also taken into account. Stewards were of the opinion that any penalty imposed must serve as both a specific deterrent and a general deterrent to reflect the seriousness of the charge and to illustrate to the industry that a breach of this nature will not be tolerated. Mr Smith was fined $5000. Acting under AHR Rule 193 (5) A Good ChanceE was disqualified from its 3rd placing in the 2015 Seymour Nursery Pace 3YO Colts and Geldings Final and all other placegetters were amended accordingly. Mr Smith was advised of his rights of appeal. Panel: D Farquharson, K Wolsey, J Dart

On Friday 10 July 2015, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW), acting under the provisions of Rule 183, suspended the Trainer’s licence of Mr Neal Wardle, effective immediately. It did so after receiving advice from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) above the prescribed threshold was detected in a pre-race blood sample taken from Our Red Sky Night NZ prior to it running in race 6, THE GARRARDS HORSE AND HOUND PACE (1609 metres) conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday 7 July 2015. The “B” sample has been confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Mr Wardle was given an opportunity to be heard on the imposition of Rule 183 and he provided submissions that were considered by HRNSW Stewards. Acting under the provisions of Rule 183A, it has been determined that Our Red Sky Night NZ, the horse subject of the certificates, shall not be nominated or compete in any race until the outcome of an inquiry or investigation. This also has immediate effect. An inquiry has been scheduled for 2pm on Thursday 16 July 2015. Harness Racing New South Wales

Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) today conducted an inquiry into a report received from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory that plasma Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) above the prescribed threshold was detected in a pre-race blood sample taken from Tayspastime following its win in race 1, The Newcastle City Holden Pace (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on Friday 12 June 2015. The “B” sample was confirmed by Racing Analytical Services in Victoria. Mr Glover appeared at the inquiry. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis and and expert evidence from Harness Racing NSW Regulatory Veterinarian Dr Wainscott were presented. Evidence was also taken from Mr Glover and Mr Fenwick, on behalf of Mr Glover, regarding the training of Tayspastime, Mr Glover’s husbandry practices and circumstances following the race. Mr Glover was issued with a charge pursuant to Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4) for presenting Tayspastime to race not free of a prohibited substance. Mr Glover was also issued with a charge pursuant to Rule 90A (2.9)(a) & (b) for allowing Mr Fenwick to carry out the duties of a licensed stablehand without being appropriately licensed. Mr Glover pleaded guilty to both charges. In respect of the charge under Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4), Mr Glover was disqualified for a period of 3 years 9 months to commence from 17 June 2015, the date upon which he was stood down. In respect of the charge under Rule 90A (2.9)(a) & (b), Mr Glover was issued with a $250 fine. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; This was Mr Glover’s 2nd offence for Prohibited Substance offences;Class 2 Prohibited Substance. The level of greater than 39.0 mmol/L detected;Mr Glover’s licence history and other personal subjective facts. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, Tayspastime was disqualified from the above mentioned race.   Harness Racing New South Wales

On Tuesday 16 June 2015, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW), acting under the provisions of Rule 183, suspended the Trainer and Driver licences of Mr John Glover, effective immediately, after receiving advice from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) above the prescribed threshold was detected in a post-race blood sample taken from TAYSPASTIME following its win in race 1, THE NEWCASTLE CITY HOLDEN PACE (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on Friday 12 June 2015. The “B” sample has been confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Mr Glover was given an opportunity to be heard on the imposition of Rule 183 and he provided submissions that were considered by HRNSW Stewards, together with other evidence that had been obtained. Acting under the provisions of Rule 183A, it has been determined that TAYSPASTIME, the horse subject of the certificates, shall not be nominated or compete in any race until the outcome of an inquiry or investigation. This also has immediate effect. An inquiry has been scheduled for 2pm on Wednesday 24 June 2015. Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. Reid Sanders Chief Operations Officer  

On 9 July 2014 HRNSW advised the harness racing Industry that effective from 1 September 2014, a new policy would be introduced for horses that were presented to race with an elevated TCO2 level in plasma greater than 35mmol/Litre.  A trainer of a horse that recorded an elevated TCO2 level above 35mmol/Litre has been required to present that horse on course at an earlier time than otherwise would be required for a period of eight weeks. In July 2014 when this policy was implemented, the average TCO2 level for NSW Standardbred horses presented to race was 31.0mmol/Litre with 8.5% of all samples tested in that month recording a level above 34mmol/Litre. In April 2015 the statewide average TCO2 level has decreased to 29.7mmol/Litre with now 1.9% of all samples for the month above 34mmol/Litre. The graph below shows since the introduction of the policy there has been a decrease in the number of TC02 samples with elevated levels about 34mmol/Litre which is consistent with a normal (untreated) population.                                         HRNSW Chief Operating Officer Reid Sanders stated these results again demonstrated the position of the governing body as the industry leader. “HRNSW reacted to a concern that horses were being treated close to race day with alkalinising agents and therefore in breach of the Rules,” said Sanders. “As a result since this policy was introduced it is encouraging to see the statewide average for TCO2 has dropped below 30mmol/Litre and importantly there has been a reduction in the number of samples recording a level over 34.0mmol/Litre. “HRNSW is continually working to stop those that want to breach the Rules and through Policies such as this coupled with other Integrity Strategies will ensure the controlling body maintains a level playing field for all participants.” Greg Hayes

RWWA Stewards have today issued the following penalties in relation to the Stewards inquiry conducted on 14 May 2015 at which harness racing trainer Mr Ryan Bell pleaded guilty to the following charges after a report from the ChemCentre in Perth, that the pre-race blood sample taken from THE SILVER FOX prior to it competing and finishing unplaced in Race 5 at Gloucester Park on Friday, 24 April 2015, had a level of total carbon dioxide (TCO2) in excess of 36.0 millimoles per litre in plasma. Charge under Harness Rule of Racing (HRR) “193(1) Stomach tubing, atomisers and other devices” with the particulars of the charge being that he did on Thursday 23 April 2015, stomach tube THE SILVER FOX which was nominated to compete in a race on Friday 24 April 2015 which was within 48-hours and contrary to the provisions of the rules. Charge under HRR190(1),(2) Presentation free of prohibited substances, with the particulars of the charge being that “as the trainer, he presented THE SILVER FOX to Race in race 5 at Gloucester Park on 24 April 2015, with the prohibited substance alkalinising agents, evidenced by a concentration of TCO2 in excess of 36.0mm/L in plasma. In relation to the above charges the Stewards have imposed a six (6) month disqualification for each offence. After taking into account the principles of totality, the Stewards have directed that three months of the penalty issued for the breach of Rule 193 is to be served concurrently, with the remaining three months to be converted to a suspension to be served cumulatively. Accordingly the total period of penalty to be served shall be 6-months disqualification followed by 3-months suspension backdated to commence as of 14 May 2015, that being the date upon which Mr Bell was stood down pending outcome of the Stewards deliberations. Under the provisions of Rule 195 THE SILVER FOX has also been disqualified from Race 5 at Gloucester Park on the 24 April 2015 with all prizemonies to be returned to RWWA as prescribed by the RWWA Rules of Harness Racing. In regards to penalty the Stewards considered and took into account as appropriate: Mr Bell’s plea of guilt, co-operation and good record over many years of licensed involvement His relative youth, level of involvement and that he had been involved in the industry since he was 14-years of age The reported level of 37.4mm/L of TCO2 The need for deterrence both general and specific That the stomach tubing had not occurred on the day of the actual race and had been admitted to by Mr Bell when first interviewed by the RWWA Investigator and Stewards That the stomach tubing of the horse included alkalinising agents, albeit that such timing and nature of administration did not satisfactorily account for the reported level Trainers are again reminded that it is a serious offence under Rule 193 to attempt to stomach tube, or stomach tube a horse within 48 hours of the commencement of a race in which a horse is nominated. Media Contact: Denis Borovica – General Manager Racing Integrity  

The Ontario Racing Commission has released the following Ruling which is accessible at the link below: COM SB 003/2015 in the matter of the appeal of Keith Cassell http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onrc Jacinth E. Chang Alloy Executive Assistant Ontario Racing Commission

The Ontario Racing Commission on Monday, November 17, 2014 ordered an indefinite full suspension for harness racing trainer Corey Johnson and five of his horses scheduled to race Monday at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto were scratched from competing. According to sources, one of Johnson’s horses tested positive for a TCO2 (blood gas or “milk shaking”) level higher than allowed in a horses natural system. It was also reported that this is a second time offence for Johnson. He also had horses scheduled to race at Woodbine this Thursday and they have been scratched from the program. The positive test results could not have come at a worse time as Johnson, 24, of Rockwood, Ontario, Canada, has two horses scheduled to race this weekend at the Meadowlands in the Breeders Crown Championship Finals. Volez Hanover is scheduled to race Friday in the $281,000 Breeders Crown for Older Pacing Mares and Traceur Hanover is in to go on Saturday in the $500,000 final for two-year-old pacing colts. While both Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario and the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey have had reciprocal agreements in the past concerning honoring suspensions of harness racing trainers, drivers and owners, this situation presents a unique scenario. As of press time of this story, the New Jersey Racing Commission has not called for the scratching of the two horses from Corey Johnson’s stable. Scratch time is at 9:00 am Wednesday morning at the Meadowlands. Because the horses were entered for the Breeders Crown races well in advance of the positive test result for Johnson, the New Jersey Racing Commission and the Meadowlands may have no choice but to allow the two horses to compete. That final decision will not be known until 9:00 am Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, Corey Johnson has been having his greatest season as a trainer in 2014. The youngster first started officially training horses in 2010 and has amassed 339 wins from his stable and just over $5 million in purses won by his horses. In 2014 alone his horses have already earned over $2 million. According to the United States Trotting Association, Johnson had a post-race positive test back on March 29, 2014 for the presences of Pyrilamine, a Class 3 illegal drug and was given a 15-day suspension and a $500 fine that he has appealed. Attempts to contact Corey Johnson for a statement were unanswered. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) yesterday conducted an inquiry into a report from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory that Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) above the prescribed threshold was detected in a pre-race blood sample taken from THREE POINT TURN NZ prior to Race 1, the Form 700 Pace (1720 metres) at the Young harness meeting on Saturday 5 July 2014. The “B” sample for THREE POINT TURN NZ has been confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Mr Townsend pleaded guilty to a charge under Rule 190(1), (2) & (4) for presenting the horse to race not free of a prohibited substance. Mr Townsend was disqualified for a period of 22 months to commence from 10 July  2014, the date upon which he  was stood down. In considering penalty, Stewards were mindful of the nature of the substance and the levels detected. In addition, Stewards were mindful of the guilty pleas entered and personal subjective facts. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, THREE POINT TURN NZ was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Harness Racing New South Wales

Racing Queensland stewards today inquired into the circumstances surrounding the analysts’ findings in respect to a pre-race blood sample taken from MACS CHOICE (NZ) prior to it competing in race 4 at Albion Park on 23 June 2014. The Queensland Government Racing Science Centre reported a level of Total Carbon Dioxide (TC02) in the blood sample in excess of the threshold as prescribed by the Australian Harness Rules of Racing. Evidence was provided by the trainer Mr Doug Manger, who explained the circumstances and possible explanation for the elevated reading. After consideration, Mr. Manger was charged pursuant to Rule 190 (1) which reads: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances The particulars of the charge being that trainer Mr Doug Manger did present MACS CHOICE (NZ) for racing at Albion Park on 23 June 2014, when a pre-race blood sample taken from this horse was found, upon analysis, to contain a prohibited substance namely, Alkalinising Agents, as evidenced by total carbon dioxide (TC02) present at a concentration in excess of the threshold as prescribed by the Australian Harness Rules of Racing. Mr Manger pleaded guilty to the charge. When assessing the matter of penalty, stewards took into account: The nature of the substance concerned The circumstances of the case Mr. Manger’s unblemished record under this rule over a 20 year period The need for a penalty to serve as a deterrent to illustrate that drug free racing is of paramount importance to the integrity of Harness Racing. Mr Manger was disqualified for 6 months. Stewards directed under Rule 195 that MACS CHOICE NZ be disqualified from its 5th placing at Albion Park on 23 June 2014 and that all other placings should  be amended accordingly. Mr Manger was advised of his rights of appeal. Panel: D. Farquharson, K. Wolsey, P. Zimmermann

*What do Remiss, Valhalla, and Mattjestic Rebeck all have in common? well, apart from all having tested over the allowable TCO2 level they are all very nervous horses which became particularly stressed on the day the day in which the tested high. NZ Trainers and Drivers Association Secretary Peter T Cook, who has had his own personal experience with Valhalla, tells more. As you have probably read among the Remits being submitted to this years’ HRNZ Annual Conference, the Board, after a prolonged period of consideration, has finally decided to bring the allowable level of TC02 in line with pretty much every other jurisdiction in the World, i.e.36mmol/L, with a “guard band” of 1.0mmol/L. At the same time, however, they have also recommended an astonishingly large increase in the penalties involved for trainers who are found guilty for a first time. From a previously recommended $2-4000 for a first offence, the Board is proposing an automatic 2 year disqualification. The change has been likened to an increase from a ten year prison sentence to the death penalty in the real world. In other words, this would potentially be a career ending penalty for most, if not all trainers. The understanding is that most Australian states have a six month penalty for a first offence which is more realistic. Not only is this proposal totally out of “kilter’ with penalties attached to other charges, it is likely encourage someone whose career is in jeopardy and who had the financial wherewithal, to contest the matter in the Countrys’ legal system. All has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it? Do we really want thousands of dollars more of Industry money keeping lawyers in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to? And while the Association is strongly supportive of measures against cheats, there is no guarantee that such legal proceedings against HRNZ would not be successful. Such a penalty offers no window for either the RIU or JCA for anyone to be found innocent. With a fine, even though it goes against natural justice, that may reluctantly be acceptable, but a two year ban is a different story. This decision has been made following long awaited, and somewhat controversial, advice from the HRNZ Veterinary Advisor Andrew Grierson. It is interesting to note that, in the press release from HRNZ, Chairman Gary Allen is quoting as saying “any positive will in almost all certainty be the result of an administration of prohibited substances.” The use of the word “almost” is interesting, considering that, in the past and currently, the RIU appear to have a policy of totally ignoring any evidence put before them suggesting a trainers’ innocence. This time last year, I had cause to have discussions with him concerning a horse in the stable I help out in, Valhalla. Andrew reeled off statistics (same as those accompanying the remit) stating categorically that the chances of a horse returning a level of 36mmol/L rises from around 15,000 to just over 2 million for a level of 37 without having TC02 administered. On the day that he was tested, Valhalla (normally a nervous horse at the races at the best of times) attempted to climb the walls of the float en route to the track, was bathed in sweat, was very agitated, and his eyes were out on storks as he was geared up. The RIU, as I could have told them, found no evidence of either Bicarbonate or anything to administer it with in the stables. The official reading was 38.2 which presumably makes him by far the rarest horse on the planet! While the requirement to present drug free horses is understandably paramount, this needs to be balanced with the rules of natural justice, and disqualifying a trainer for two years for a high level of a substance already present in every horse, doesn’t seem to match those requirements. It is quite possible that a Court of Law may take the same view, particularly when there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the trainer. Mark Jones is currently enduring the same nightmare of presenting compelling evidence that he did not administer bicarb, only to have it totally ignored by the authorities. As for performance enhancement, both Valhalla and Remiss, Marks’ horse that is currently under investigation, both finished last in their respective races! Peter T Cook (Courtesy of the Trainers and Drivers Association)

Training will become a game of Russian Roulette unless harness racing officials become more proactive investigating high bicarbonate levels and allow trainers to prove their innocence, says trainer Mark Jones. Jones, one of the country's most celebrated reinsmen and now a successful trainer at Burnham, is concerned at Harness Racing New Zealand's proposal to introduce strict new penalties for breaches of the TCO2 rule. A remit that will go before the annual general meeting of clubs in Christchurch next month would see the TCO2 threshold lifted from 35 to 36 (with a margin of error of one) to bring it into line with the thoroughbred code and overseas jurisdictions. But with it would come a dramatic rise in the penalties handed out, fines of only a few thousand dollars replaced by minimum disqualifications of two years for a first offence, five years for a second breach and 10 years for a third offence. The proposal came under immediate fire from Amberley trainer Jamie Keast yesterday when he was suspended for six months for his third high bicarb, after Westburn Creed tested 36.2 at Kaikoura last November. And while Jones says the lifting of the level is long overdue, he has good reason to oppose the draconian bans given he is facing a bicarb charge of his own after Remiss returned a level of 36.2 at Forbury Park on June 5 while Jones was away in Nelson. After the mare came close to testing high again on another trip to Dunedin three weeks later, returning 35.6, Jones was forced to sack the horse, not prepared to risk a second charge. Jones has no idea why Remiss tests high but says his attempts to prove his innocence have been rebutted by the Racing Integrity Unit. ''Under the rule, you can't beat them. It's one of strict liability and they say they don't have to do or prove anything. It's an easy kill for them.'' Jones said he had invited the RIU out to his property to show them the $100,000 CCT camera security system he had in place. But his assurances that he had taken all possible precautions were met by a blunt claim that the horse should not have been left unattended, albeit briefly, when strapper Kimberley Butt was out on the track driving. ''I told them I was prepared to pay for them to take the horse for a week then transport it down to Dunedin, test if before it leaves, then again on arrival to see if it its bicarb rises. ''They told me that even if the level went over 36, it would be no defence. Jones said all he was asking for was a measure of common sense and the chance to prove his innocence. And that would be an absolute necessity if HRNZ introduced two-year disqualifications for first offenders. ''I don't like being accused of things I haven't done and it's my livelihood on the line,'' said Jones, fearful that his lifeline of selling horses to Australia will be cut off if his reputation is dented. Jones said RIU investigator Kylie Williams told him if he wanted to race Remiss again she would give him permission to give her a warm-up on the track earlier in the night to lower her level by one to two points. ''But I refused. I shouldn't have to do that to be able to race a horse.'' Instead he passed Remiss on to his father Peter to train and, warmed up twice before she raced at Addington last week, she tested at 34.8. ''But if he hadn't warmed her up before the tests, the level could have been close to 36 or even over.'' Ironically, Peter Jones is also training Mattjestic Rebeck, who landed Rangiora hobby trainer Neville Gorrie in strife in June 2013 when it tested 36.3, resulting in his being fined $1800. Jones said it was simply outrageous to suggest that Gorrie, along with fellow respected Ladbrooks trainer Gavin Cook, whose horse Valhalla tested high at 37 and 38.3 last year, should be disqualified for two years. Jones, who has an earlier bicarb strike against his name, when Algeepee tested 38.2 at Addington in 2010, would be looking at five years out. ''You could never come back after that long. I'd have to sell my property.'' Jones said he's had other horses with unexplained bicarb variances, such as Fair Dinkum Bromac, whose resting paddock level of 30 routinely jumped four points when he went to the races. He had been the same when trained by John Hay. ''It's all very well for their vet to say high levels can only happen with administrations but so many things can affect them. ''I need to figure out why it's happening to me. Am I over-training them, is it in my feed? ''I know the pre-mix feed I use has preservatives in it. That wouldn't be enough to put the level over by itself but put that together with dehydration, stress, lung infections and you can come up with a lethal cocktail. That's scary.'' Courtesy of Barry Lichter Reprinted with permissin of Fairfax media  

Suspended harness trainer Jamie Keast applauds a move to lift the allowable level of bicarbonate in racehorses but he warns lengthy automatic bans could crucify the innocent. Keast, based at Amberley with his partner Henriette Westrum, has just been suspended for six months for his third breach of the bicarb rule, and says he is unlikely to return to training when his time is up at the end of the year. ''I've lost a lot of clients over this and I don't think I'll even bother training again,'' Keast said. ''I'm not making any money out of it. ''I can earn more money in 15 minutes shoeing a horse than I can training one.'' Keast said he basically put his hands in the air after Westburn Creed returned a level of 36.2 at Kaikoura last November even though he had not cheated. ''We knew after the last case that there was no point fighting them because of their strict liability rule and we're still struggling to pay off the last fine.'' Two containers of bicarbonate of soda were taken from Keats' feed room, along with a drenching tube and bucket but Keast denied that he put any bicarb into Westburn Creed's feed. He said they regularly drenched horses who had raced, trialled, or done fast work with a mixture of substances which included DMSO and one tablespoon of baking soda. But after Wally's Girl tested high last July they changed their practice and drenched their horses three days before a meeting, not two. The RIU's veterinary adviser Andrew Grierson said an administration three days before the race could not have elevated the horse's TCO2 levels on the day. Keast's counsel Mary-Jane Thomas submitted Westburn Creed had a throat condition which could have raised his bicarb level because it restricted the intake of oxygen and exhaling of carbon dioxide. After Westburn Creed underwent surgery in mid 2012, his levels decreased but about a year later, in October, 2013, their vet discovered the growth had returned. Thomas submitted Grierson did not expressly discount the possibility of the nasal obstruction being the cause, concluding rather that the readings did not support that as the likely cause. Grierson said the level was best explained statistically by the administration of an alkalising agent. Christopher Lange for the RIU said Westburn Creed's levels were between 32 and 34.1 when trained by Ivan Court, between 35.2 and 36.2 when with Keast and Westrum, and between 31.3 and 32.8 when taken over by Bob Rochford. Keast says he's all in favour of a Harness Racing New Zealand remit which will be put at the annual meeting of clubs in Christchurch next month that the level go up one point - with the built-in margin of error it would mean the new cutoff was 37, a threshold neither of his horses would have tripped. But he said rather than having automatic minimum sentences of two years for a first offence, five years for a second and 10 years for a third breach, penalties should be determined by the level. ''We reckon we're innocent and there have been a lot of other people crucified for this already. ''Any vet will tell you this is not an exact science. Lots of factors like dehydration, feed, nervousness and respiratory conditions can have an affect.'' Keast will be allowed to continue driving in races, and carry out his farrier work but he cannot work horses or break them in until January. Courtesy of Barry Lichter Reprinted with permission of Fairfax media  

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