Day At The Track
Demeter,Harness racing

Qld mares for North America

Talented Queensland mares Demeter and Laughing Emoji are the latest recruits bound for the ever increasing North American market. Buoyed by the deeds of world champion pacing mare Shartin, the appetite for ‘downunder’ pacing mares has hit fever pitch. And the performance across the weekend of former Victorian mare Soho Burning Love at the Meadowlands winning the Mares Open in 1:48.1 has further underlined the quality heading north in recent seasons. Connections of both Demeter and Laughing Emoji accepted offers they couldn’t refuse. Demeter, trained by former Leeton horseman Reece Maguire has proven to be an outstanding money-spinner since coming to the Sunshine State where she has won four of her nine starts. All four victories took place at Albion Park. Overall, Demeter has won 10 of her 40 starts to date. In her first start at the famed Breakfast Creek oval, the Art Major – Weka Lass mare took a personal best time of 1:54.2. At her most recent start, Demeter finished second behind boom pacer Speech Is Silver at Albion Park on June 6 in a time of 1:56.9 for 2138m. Demeter is a half-sister to talented Victorian based mare Reciprocity (16 wins - $158k). Meanwhile, Laughing Emoji also created a tidy record in Brisbane following her purchase from New Zealand as a three-year-old. The big striding Mach Three mare was prepared by Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen and all of her 11 (from 53 starts) were recorded on Australian soil. Laughing Emoji was purchased from the south island of New Zealand following her second start. Nine of her victories took place at Albion Park while she also registered a victory on the half mile Redcliffe circuit. Her best winning mile rate of 1:52.9 took place at Menangle during a Sydney campaign back in 2018. This season, Laughing Emoji has won seven races. At her final Australian start, Laughing Emoji finished fifth at Albion Park behind Corsini in a time of 1:57.1 after being caught without cover.   Chris Barsby

Trixton,Harness racing

NJ Sire Stakes final double for Trixton

Trixton produced the winners of both finals of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old trotting fillies at The Meadowlands on Friday night (July 3). Competing in the $160,000 final, Ab’sattitudexpress took full advantage of a box seat trail to score by 1-3/4 lengths in a new lifetime mark of 1:52.4. The filly has won four of her six starts and $111,000 in stakes. Play Trix On Me, who started from the outside gate, settled down second last before storming home to win the $128,000 final in 1:53.6. A dual NYSS champion, the filly has won seven out of nine for $204,850. Brilliant Royalty For Life filly Warrawee Vicky, last year’s Ontario Sires Stakes two-year-old points leader, returned to the winning list in a $73,067 division of the OSS Gold Series at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday night (July 2). The filly led from go to whoa in 1:54.4. Trixton has jumped to the top of this year’s North American 3YO trotting sires’ premiership, while Royalty For Life is sixth. The Trixton two-year-old colt Utopia made an auspicious debut at Shepparton on Thursday (July 2), winning by an amazing 82.5 metres at a track record 2:02.6 rate. Bred by Nick Hooper and Paul Graydon, the colt is out of a Muscles Yankee mare, Gluteus Maximus, and thus carries a 3x2 cross to Muscles Yankee. Watch the replay here. Lucky Chucky took the siring honours at Albion Park on Friday night (July 3) with a winning double. Aurora, a three-year-old filly, won a heat of the Springboard Series to make it four on end, while The Reaper, a four-year-old gelding, overcame a 30 metre handicap to post win No. 6. To complete a big week, the Wishing Stone four-year-old Phoebe Onyx notched his fourth success at Addington, New Zealand on Friday night (July 3), carving out a last 800 in 58.7. Trixton, Royalty For Life, Lucky Chucky and Wishing Stone are members of the Stallions Australasia frozen semen roster.   By Peter Wharton

He’s Watching,Harness racing

Rich stakes winners by He’s Watching

The first weekend of July proved a red-letter one for emerging, young sire He’s Watching. His sensational three-year-old son Tattoo Artist set a Canadian season’s mark of 1:48.4 winning the $107,200 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday (July 4). The colt was sent straight to the top from the No. 8 gate and was never headed, scoring by three lengths with the last quarter in 26.8. It was his third win from four tries this year. Another He’s Watching colt, Examiner Hanover, finished runner-up in 1:50 in the $106,400 OSS Gold division. The following day He’s Watching’s brilliant three-year-old daughter Watch My Speed overwhelmed her rivals in 1:56.4 in the time-honoured $64,700 Kin Pace at Clinton Raceway, Canada. The New Zealand bred three-year-old filly Hereslooknatyou won at her first attempt in the northern hemisphere at Saratoga, New York in 1:57.6, while the colt He’s Got A Vendetta scored in 1:57.6 at Kawartha Downs, Canada. He’s Watching produced two ‘new’ winners at the Redcliffe meeting in the two-year-old filly Joy Maketr and the three-year-old gelding Illbewatching (1:57.9). Topzavski, a He’s Watching three-year-old, tasted success for the fifth time at Mildura. He’s Watching 3, 1:46.8 ($1.1 million) is standing this season at Luke Primmer’s Tipperary Equine, Young (NSW).   By Peter Wharton

Nigel McGrath,Harness racing

Nigel McGrath disqualified for 8 years

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 

Young survives a scare Jocelyn Young had some anxious moments when hot favourite Just For Love paced roughly on the home turn before the filly regained her composure and went on to score a convincing victory in the $30,000 Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I had my heart in my mouth at the top of the straight when she put in a couple of rough ones,” she said. “But then she got back down and pacing.” Just For Love was smartest into stride from the coveted No. 1 barrier and she relaxed as she strolled through the lead time in 38.1sec. and the opening quarters in the modest times of 32.1sec. and 31.5sec. She then increased the tempo and covered the final 400m sections in 29.3sec. and 28.1sec. to win at a 2.0.2 rate by 4m from Lady Bella Anne, who finished strongly from fifth on the pegs at the bell. The consistent Star For Me trailed the pacemaker throughout and finished third. Three starts before her win on Friday night Just For Love, trained in Busselton by Barry Howlett, started from barrier one in the group 1 Diamond Classic in which she set the pace before wilting to seventh behind Always An Angel. “Barry was a little concerned about her leading tonight and we thought that we would like to get away with what we could (with a slow pace) and save her for that quick sprint that she’s got,” Young said. “So, it all worked out good for us.” Howlett, who races Just For Love with his daughter Katie and son Jimmy, said that Just For Love was the first horse he saw when he arrived for the 2019 Perth yearling sale and he took an instant liking to her. “She was by Mach Three, a stallion I have always liked, and we were able to buy her for $17,000,” he said. Just For Love, bred by Steve Johnson, is out of Harper Grace, a Victorian-bred pacer who raced in Western Australia for six wins, five placings and $47,185 in stakes from 27 starts. Just For Love now has had 12 starts for two wins, three seconds and $41,713. Harper Grace is a half-sister to eight winners, including Bus To Harland (61 starts for 17 wins, 15 placings and $317,869). Just For Love’s win on Friday night earned her an automatic inclusion in the field for the $100,000 Choices Flooring Golden Slipper next Friday night. However, she will not run in the rich classic, with Howlett saying: “She has had a good campaign and deserves a rest. I’ll now spell her for six to eight weeks.”   Vultan Tin back in form Evergreen pacer, the seemingly indestructible Vultan Tin, burst back to his best form and ended a losing streak of 15 when he defeated champion Chicago Bull in the Intersport Slater Gartrell Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Second favourite at $5.40, the eight-year-old Vultan Tin raced three wide in the early stages before Chris Voak sent him to the front after 450m, with Chicago Bull, the $1.26 favourite from the outside barrier in the field of seven, settling in last position. Gary Hall jnr moved Chicago Bull forward with 1450m to travel and the seven-year-old raced without cover for the remainder of the race and was gallant in defeat, with the final three quarters run in 28.4sec., 27.7sec. and 28sec., with Vultan Tin rating 1.56.7 over the 2536m journey. Chiaroscuro, who led early and then trailed the pacemaker, was a sound third. Vultan Tin, bred, trained at Coolup by Phil Costello and owned by him and his son Daniel, has been a wonderful performer who has had 160 starts for 26 wins, 41 placings and $568,212 in prizemoney. Quizzed about Vultan Tin’s drop away in form recently, Costello said: “He has had a couple of hard runs that didn’t suit him. Old horses when they work hard in races tend to be affected mentally, probably more than physically.” Costello praised the gelding’s versatility and his strong constitution. “His legs have got lumps and bumps on them, but they were there before I broke him in,” he said. “He has never seen a vet since he was a yearling when he was gelded.” Vultan Tin’s next run is likely to be in the $20,000 BOTRA Cup on Friday week, and Costello said that the gelding would be set for the WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup in the summer. Vultan Tin, winner of the $50,000 City of Perth Cup in February 2019, when he beat El Jacko and Herrick Roosevelt, gave a sample of his class when he finished fourth behind Lazarus, Chicago Bull and Tiger Tara in the Interdominion championship final at Gloucester Park in December 2017 when he beat home Galactic Star, Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark. The Vultan Tin story started just over 25 years ago when Costello bought a Victorian-bred mare Toy Shop after she had finished sixth behind Fatal Error in a CO event in Albany in January 1995 for trainer Ray Grantham and driver Lyn Lucas. That was her only start and Toy Shop produced two foals, a colt and a filly, and only the filly, named Carravelle, raced. Carravelle failed to notch a win from 17 starts before being retired to stud, and her first foal, Ellevarrac managed one win from 30 starts, a head victory over Our Captains Lady at Pinjarra in December 2008. Vultan Tin, by American stallion Dawn Of A New Day, is the first foal out of Ellevarrac and the only one of her two progeny to have raced. Ellevarrac died in December 2015. The second foal is five-year-old Co Pilot and the Costello family is hopeful he soon will be able to make his race debut.   Cut Above shines after poor start Serpentine trainer Matt Scott celebrated his 14TH victory with Cut Above when she won at Gloucester Park on Friday night and reminisced how the mare survived a nasty accident soon after she arrived in Western Australia from New Zealand in February 2018. “It certainly wasn’t the best start,” said Scott. “But she has proved to be a good earner. “The first day I worked her I thought she was a lovely quiet horse, being New Zealand-bred and experienced in standing starts. I saw no need for a head check, and after walking a lap I said to one of my staff ‘how quiet is this horse’ and next minute she went to town and bucked for about a hundred metres. “She got her leg over the crossbar where the breastplate goes on to --- and she went down to ground and got impaled on a bolt which went into the side of her off hind leg. She had to have three months off, and it wasn’t a good start to her career here. “There’s no soreness in the leg, but she still shows a nasty scar of about 12 centimetres.” Tim Blee picked out Cut Above after watching her two starts in New Zealand, when second in a 2170m stand on the grass track at Motukarara and an easy all-the way winner in a 2000m stand at Oamaru. Blee was quite taken by Cut Above’s debut effort when she settled in seventh position and charged home, out wide, to finish a half-head second to Si Si Senor and return a place dividend of $11.90, while rating 2.9.5. Blee outlaid $25,000 to purchase Cut Above, who now has had 64 starts for the Scott stable for 14 wins, 22 placings and $106,856 in stakes. Cut Above will have a couple more starts before being retired to stud. Cut Above is just one of several New Zealand-bred pacers purchased by Blee in recent years and trained by Scott. Among them are Neighlor, Son Of A Tiger, Lady Azalea. His latest purchases have recently arrived at Scott’s stables from New Zealand. They are The Situation and Ocean Beach, a full-brother to top-flight pacer Ocean Ridge.   Fifty Five Reborn set for classic Smart three-year-old filly Fifty Five Reborn will be set to contest the $30,000 Daintys Daughter Classic at Pinjarra on Monday week after impressing with her strong victory in the 2130m The West Australian Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Astute Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown was full of praise for the Renaissance Man filly after she started out wide at barrier seven, surged to the lead after 400m and sprinted over the final 800m in  56.7sec. to win from the fast-finishing Red Hot Lady, who led early and then trailed the pacemaker. “She’s just a lovely little filly who does everything right,” Brown said. “She does nothing wrong and just does the job. She is the sort of filly who can continue racing until the end of the extended season in December. With bonuses, she has earned more than $100,000.” Fifty Five Reborn has already amassed $81,897 in prizemoney from seven wins and two placings from 17 starts. She is the first foal out of unraced Bettors Delight mare Arma Fifty Five. Brown also prepares the second foal out of Arma Fifty Five, a colt named Arma Einstein. Fifty Five Reborn and Arma Einstein are closely related to Arma Xpress, who earned $279,890 from 12 wins and one placing from just 18 starts. She was an outstanding two-year-old when her wins in that season included the group 1 Sales Classic and the Golden Slipper, two group 2 events, the Champagne Classic and Westbred Classic, and the group 3 Gold Bracelet.      Young’s first city success Thirty-one-year-old horseman Michael Young notched his first success as a trainer in a metropolitan-class event when Gary Hall jnr drove $7.80 chance Bolta to a fighting victory in the 2130m Westral Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Also enjoying the victory are first-time owners Matt McMahen, Sammy Grantham, Clint Deane and Tam Dijkhuizen, who race the five-year-old in partnership with Young. The new owners, who paid $10,000 for Bolta, are delighted that the gelding’s 26 starts for them have resulted in five wins, eight placings and stakes of $39,241. Young explained that 12 months ago Brad Oldroyd, who owned Bolta with his parents John and Val, offered the gelding to Hall jnr to ascertain whether he knew anyone who might be interested in buying the pacer. “I was in the right place at the right time and said I was willing to buy the horse,” Young said. “Bolta was a bit of a handful when we got him; you would bring him to the races, and he would just stand and shake and sweat. He ran his race before he went on to the track. He also struggled to hold condition. But we have sorted out his problems and he looks well and races well.” Polemarker Affluent Bell, the $2.20 favourite, set the pace in Friday night’s event, with Hall quickly positioning Bolta into the one-out, one-back trail, behind $51 outsider Art Tudor in the breeze. Bolta and Art Tudor got the better of Affluent Bell in the home straight and they fought out an exciting finish, with Bolta prevailing by a half-neck, with Affluent Bell a half-length away in third place.   One for Mum and Dad Trainer Giles Inwood’s recent run of successes with Gangbuster, Bettor Party and Semiramide continued at Gloucester Park on Friday night when Batavia Silverline, a $26 outsider, triumphed in a thrilling three-way photo finish of the 2130m Simmonds Steel Free-For-All for mares. Batavia Silverline, a four-year-old by Elsu, started from the prized No. 1 barrier and reinsman Michael Grantham had her perfectly positioned behind the freewheeling pacemaker Millwood Gucci ($14), with the $1.75 favourite Mandy Joan in the breeze. After the second and third quarters of the final mile in 28.7sec. and 27.9sec. Batavia Silverline finished strongly to gain a last-stride victory by a head over Millwood Gucci, with that mare’s stablemate My Prayer ($8) finishing powerfully to be  a nose away in third place. “Despite her very good second to Manning at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, I thought Batavia Silverline would be outclassed the strong field at Gloucester Park,” said Inwood. “But she’s a good trier. “Batavia Silverline is owned by my parents Grahame and Jennifer and this was their first win in a metropolitan-class event.”   He’s the real deal Hardy seven-year-old Mighty Flying Deal, unplaced at his previous 13 starts and with a losing run of 15, the victim of a succession of wide draws, relished an ideal barrier and bounced back to form with a strong win over Extreme Prince and Bad Round in the 2130m TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred gelding, prepared in Collie by Wayne Justins, was a $8.50 chance from his ideal draw on the inside of the back line and 23-year-old Mark Johnson drove a perfect race, following the pacemaker Mattjestic Star before easing off the pegs in the final lap and dashing Mighty Flying Deal to the front with 220m to travel. In an up-tempo affair, Mighty Flying Deal rated a smart 1.55.6. “I knew that the one horse (Mattjestic Star) pulls hard and that he would run along,” said Johnson. “My horse was travelling easily on Mattjestic Star’s back all the way and I was confident he would be able to get over the leader.” Mighty Flying Deal is by American Ideal and is the ninth foal out of Fleets Pocket, who was retired after four unplaced efforts as a two and three-year-old in New Zealand. Mighty Flying Deal is one of ten winners produced by Fleets Pocket, the most successful being Flying Pocketlands (90 starts for 21 wins, 29 placings and $442,423), Mighty Flying Thomas (226 starts for 24 wins, 56 placings and $345,429) and Mighty Flying Mac (87 starts for 16 wins, 29 placings and $265,837). Mighty Flying Deal raced 35 times in New Zealand for five wins and seven placings. He now has won 14 times for the Justins family and boasts a fine career record of 115 starts for 19 wins, 22 placings and $190,418.   All the way for Rebel With A Grin Rebel With A Grin is an extremely capable standing-start performer and he relished the No. 2 barrier in the Etch Coatings Handicap, a stand over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night, when Dylan Egerton-Green drove him to an easy all-the-way victory. The New Zealand-bred four-year-old, prepared by champion trainers Greg and Skye Bond, has excelled since arriving in Western Australia where his 17 starts have produced seven wins and six placings. He was a $5.70 chance and gave his rivals little opportunity to seriously challenge him when he dashed over the final three quarters in 29.5sec., 28.9sec. and a similar 28.9sec. to beat Major Artist (who trailed him all the way) by two and a half lengths. Rebel With A Grin is by Smiling Shard and is out of Highview Chasue, a half-sister to former star pacer Highview Tommy, who earned $990,015 from 17 wins and 27 placings from 104 starts. It was interesting at Northam on Saturday night when one of Highview Tommy’s sons Tommy Kruze, a three-year-old owned, trained and driven by Michael Blakemore, scored an easy win over 1780m.   Our Perkins bounces back Our  Perkins, a handy six-year-old trained at Byford by Karen Thompson, unplaced at his five previous starts from unfavourable barriers, gave a typical powerful frontrunning performance to win the Cowden The Insurance Brokers Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.        Dylan Egerton-Green had no problem in sending Our Perkins, the $2.10 favourite, to the front from the No. 3 barrier and the WA-bred Rocknroll Hanover gelding was not extended in coasting to victory by more than two lengths from $5 second fancy Carter Micheal, who finished boldly from eighth at the bell. Our Perkins is out of the unraced mare Foxy Cleo, who has done a fine job at stud in producing ten winners. Our Perkins has had 65 starts for 11 wins, 15 placings and $92,226.   Double for the Bond camp Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond completed a double at Gloucester Park on Friday night when Ryan Warwick drove promising New Zealand-bred four-year-old Infatuation to an all-the-way victory in the 1730m Worldwide Printing Pace. The Bonds had won earlier in the program with Rebel With a Grin, driven by Dylan Egerton-Green. Warwick had to defy an early challenge for the lead from the $3.90 second favourite Cyclone Banner and then dictated terms in front, with Cyclone Banner working hard without cover. The final quarters whizzed by in 28.6sec. and 28.3sec. and Infatuation, the $1.30 favourite, rated a smart 1.54.5. Infatuation raced four times in New Zealand for one win and three seconds and his WA record stands at 13 starts for nine wins and one placing.   by Ken Casellas

There's been plenty of confidence from the Nicholson camp as to the ability of Its Back In The Day and now the horse has thrown his hoof up as a potential challenger for October's Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup. The John Nicholson-trained pacer produced a breathtaking performance to win the DNR Logistics East Versus West Pace Final on Saturday night, sitting parked outside the leader for much of the 2240m trip before pulling away to win by more than 15 metres in a slick 1:53.4 mile rate. Nicholson's son Rhys is no stranger to saluting the judge aboard winning horses and gave one of his best efforts as the son of Washington VC cruised to his 11th career victory. "It's been a long time coming. We know at home what he puts in and how good the horse is, it's just good for the owners to put it on the track today," Rhys said after the race. "I don't know the last time I've seen a horse three-wide the trip chasing a 43-second lead time, never back it off and sit in the chair and run away from them." Despite working hard through the early stages to find a position in the race, Nicholson still had plenty of horse approaching the final stretch and wasn't afraid to let his rivals know about it. "It was pretty funny. I said to Kate Gath (Arden Voyager) at the 400m 'you'll see how good he is now' - that's how much horse I had left in me," he said. Its Back In The Day's success came at his third run back from a break and took his career earnings to more than $80,000. The 2020 Tasmanian Cup runner-up is now a $71 chance for the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup, which is scheduled for October 12. He sits well down the line of betting behind favourite Ride High, who produced the third quickest mile rate at Tabcorp Park while winning Saturday night's Melton City Council Sprint. Gath had a laugh about Nicholson's quiet words during the race and labelled Its Back In The Day as "simply outstanding". "They just rarely ever do that. I was thinking 'I wish I had a horse that could do that' and I've got some nice horses," she said. "It's obviously an exciting horse for the future and I know they've had a big opinion of it since they've had him. Now we're really seeing what he can do and he's scarily good."   HRV - Michael Howard

A horrific three-horse fall during the first attempt of the Lee’s Orchard Pace marred the eight-race card in Launceston on Sunday night. Canbe Doc driven by Conor Crook galloped soon after the start and fell with Rockandhardplace driven by John Walters and Major Davvin who was driven by Adrian Duggan, all falling and losing their drivers. The race was called off straight after the incident. Drivers Conor Crook and Adrian Duggan laid on the track and were attended to by Medical Edge and Tasmanian Ambulance staff before being taken to the Launceston General Hospital. Adrian Duggan was unconscious for several minutes and he underwent surgery last night on a compound fracture to his ankle and is awaiting further scans. Duggan was a late call up to drive the pacer after regular driver and the pacers trainer Steve Davis was attending to another horse on his property. Conor Crook, who was also unconscious for several minutes, remains in hospital for observation and is in good spirits. Driver John Walters was originally passed clear to fulfil his four remaining driving commitments. In the early hours of Monday morning however, he admitted himself into the Launceston General Hospital and has since been discharged with ligament damage. Both Canbe Doc and Rockandahardplace escaped serious injury. While Major Davvin was transported to the Longford Equine Clinic and operated on, trainer Steven Davis said that the pacer is expected to make a full recovery and he was very appreciative of the work conducted by the vets involved. Canbe Doc has been stood down from racing for 28 days and will have to complete four consecutive satisfactory trials before being eligible to race again. The race was rerun 70-minutes later with the three horses involved in the fall declared late scratchings with the Michael Laugher-trained Emjays Black Chip registering his first win in 13-months. It was a night for short price favourites with three horses winning at red figures. Agouda Ruler was a strong winner of the two-year-old event scoring at $1.90. It was the Betterthancheddar geldings fourth career win at start six. Kosimo was sent out the $1.22 favourite in the Longford Equine Clinic Pace, and the Mark Jones-trained pacer didn’t let favourite punters down scoring by 4.1 metres. The last short price favourite to score was Cool Water Paddy who bounced back to the winners list at odds of $1.75.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

THE real McLovin is back. The jury has been out on the former Kiwi trotter since his roller-coaster NZ raid late last year, which culminated in him being scratched from the Auckland Inter Dominion with a viral infection. He’s won a few races since returning home, but largely not quite looked the same horse. But all that changed last night with his epic, off-the-canvas win in the Group 3 Noopy Kiosk Trotters’ free-for-all. Yes he may have lost a little of his brilliance, but strength and will are as good, if not better, than ever. McLovin looked beaten a dozen times, especially when shoved four-wide for much of the last lap, but just kept coming and savaged the line to win by a half-neck. They went a brisk 1min55.9sec mile rate for 1720m. It rekindled memories of his mighty win in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint back on Victoria Cup night last October. McLovin’s raced 11 times this term for six wins, two seconds, a third and almost $120,000. He’s now won 15 races and pocketed almost $260,000 since joining Gath’s stable. McLovin was the first of two huge wins for Team Gath on the night, the second coming when the emerging Kiwi-bred gelding Eureka copped plenty of pressure in front, overraced badly and still scorched a 1min52.1sec mile rate for 1720m to score. Eureka, a Washington VC four-year-old, is raced by Norm Jenkin, who also owns McLovin. Eureka’s 10 Aussie runs have netted seven wins, a second and a third. _________________________________________________________________________________________ CASH N Flow’s eighth successive Menangle mile free-for-all win sent onlookers scrambling for the record books. Race caller Fred Hastings confirmed the former Kiwi gelding had broken two records on his way to a soft 4.3m win over stablemate Replaced Eye. Cash N Flow’s last half and quarter were the quickest officially clocked race splits at Menangle. The son of Mach Three blazed home in 53.2 and 25.3sec. It came off a very cosy 27.6 opening quarter and 57.4sec first half, so the mile itself was comfortable for Cash N Flow at 1min50.6sec. The previous fastest winning split by a leader was the 53.6sec Spankem clocked winning last year’s Miracle Mile. _________________________________________________________________________________________ ANTHONY Butt will get his wish with classy former Kiwi three-year-old Perfect Stride. Butt wants some strong racing for the colt before he heads to the South-East Derby at Albion Park later this month. Perfect Stride had to dig deep for his first-up win at Menangle last night, despite running to the front and strolling through a 59.2sec first half over a mile. It was really just a 400m sprint home and Perfect Stride just held-off his main danger, Seeuinnashville, to win by a half-head in a 26sec final quarter over a 1min53.7sec mile. The win qualified Perfect Stride for next week’s TAB Long May We Play final, which will draw together a strong line-up. Hardest to beat will be buzz four-year-old Whereyabinboppin, who did things wrong, raced erratically at times and still won his heat sitting parked much of the trip in a 1min51.5sec mile. The other heat winners were Paul Fitzpatrick’s improving Bracken Storm in a 1min51.4sec mile and Craig Cross’ Royal Aurora in 1min51.8sec. _________________________________________________________________________________________ FANS now can’t wait to see Queensland’s buzz pacer Speech Is Silver take on the big boys. The former All Stars’ five-year-old seemed to win with something in reserve despite doing plenty of work in a 1min54.5sec mile rate for 1660m at Albion Park last night. It was his seventh win on end, his 11th win from just 13 runs this season and his 14th win from just 18 lifetime starts. Queensland’s top pacer Colt Thirty One survived a late scare to win the free-for-all last night. The five-year-old led from the pole, copped a little midrace pressure, and held-off Justalittle Torque by a half-neck in a 26.6sec last quarter and 1min55.9sec mile rate for 2138m. _________________________________________________________________________________________ CHRIS Voak has become one of the best front-running drivers in Australia. And he showed why with a superbly-rated drive in front on hardy veteran Vultan Tin to upset Chicago Bull in the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Voak put the foot down with a 28.4sec second quarter, then went 27.7sec down the back before a 28 flat closing split. That’s 1min24.1sec for the last 1200m! It was only Vultan Tin’s third win from 21 starts this season, but took his career record to 160 starts for 26 wins, 41 placings and almost $570,000. Vultan Tin’s been a player at WA’s top level for a number of years and most notably ran fourth to Lazarus in the 2017 Perth Inter Dominion final. In the other Gloucester Park features Friday, Mach Three filly Just For Love led throughout for driver Jocelyn Young to easily win the 2YO Fillies’ Gold Bracelet. _________________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIA’S dominant Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable continue to make a splash with their select team of trotters. Just a day after buzz two-year-old trotter Utopia won his first start by almost 90m at Shepparton, their three-year-old Cover Of Darkness stretched his unbeaten run to three wins at Ballarat. It came after a scare for driver Jodi Quinlan when Cover Of Darkness, a Majestic Son colt, galloped for a few strides at the start, but quickly settled. Quinlan let him balance-up, but when he started to pull hard, she unleashed him around to take the front. Cover of Darkness was headed rounding the final bend, but just kept finding to win by 3.9m in a 2min1.9sec mile rate for 2200m. Sitting at home about to resume is Tonkin and Stewart’s untapped four-year-old trotter Alpha Male, who won the Group 1 Need for Speed on March 9 last year, but hasn’t raced since because of injury. Alpha Male, described by Tonkin as a “monster of a horse,” has raced just five times for three wins and two placings. Both placings came after costly gallops.   Adam Hamilton

Tintin In America’s bonny daughter Shartin continued her devastating form with an effortless win in 1:52 in a $33,000 Open at Yonkers, New York last weekend. She has now won 43 of her 58 starts and more than $US2.2 million. Promising three-year-old Boston Busker, who scored his maiden success at a 1:55.7 rate at Wagga, and Bid For Red, who won for the ninth time at Parkes, were other recent winners sired by Tintin In America. Renaissance Man, the latest addition to the Yirribee Pacing Stud team, was represented by a pair of very impressive winners in Western Australia at the weekend. Fifty Five Reborn, a three-year-old filly, won in 1:57.9 at Gloucester Park and has now banked over $80,000, while the four-year-old Yo Te Amo Haitch posted a career-best 1:59 winning for the fourth time at Northam. Million Dollar Cam produced winners in both hemispheres last week. Camstar Road took a new lifetime mark of 1:59.3 at Shepparton, while Eastend Eddie won in 1:56.8 at Harrington Raceway, Delaware. To complete a very successful week, The Clock Winder (by Lombo Pocket Watch) recorded his fifth success at Wagga in a career-best 1:58.1. Tintin In America, Renaissance Man, Million Dollar Cam and Lombo Pocket Watch are all members of the Yirribee Pacing Stud sire roster for the 2020/21 season. They will be joined by the champion colonial bred performers Lazarus and Lennytheshark and the top flight American import Fear The Dragon.   by Peter Wharton

Exceptionally talented pacer Pat Stanley, who claimed this year’s South Australian Pacing Cup in brilliant fashion, is off to the US. The five-year-old gelding, sired by Western Ideal, out of Jaz Tanner (Artiscape), will join the in-form barn of ex-Aussies Shane and Lauren Tritton, at Pine Bush, 130 kms from New York City. Accompanying Pat Stanley will be brown gelding War Dan (Bettors Delight-Kalypso (Safely Kept), formerly prepared at Lara by Amanda Grieve. “We’re pretty excited - Pat Stanley is a terrific horse with so much ability. The other one, War Dan, is extremely honest. They will both be suited to the racing over here—we’ve got no doubts that they’ll fit in the classes nicely,” Tritton said. “We’ve known Danny (Zavitsanos) and Warren (Viney), who own War Dan, for a long time, but this’ll be the first horse they have raced in the States,” he said. “This will take us up to 17 or 18 horses in work. The two latest ones coming over are quality and as long as we keep the ball rolling, all is good.” Team Tritton continues to tick along with regular winners. Early last week they broke new ground when USA-bred trotter La Dolfina was successful at Yonkers, driven by regular reinsman Jordan Stratton. “We trained a few trotters over the years when back in New South Wales but this was something a bit different.  We really didn’t expect to pick up one that was bred and owned in the US,” Shane said. “He’s owned by the three Betts brothers.  Scott Betts, the trainer, is based and races The Meadows, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and they thought La Dolfina would be suited to Yonkers. “They actually sent another three down to us as well. They’re hoping they may be better placed down our way.” The husband and wife team travelled to The Downs, Pocono, yesterday to compete at that venue for the very first time. “It was a special day for the country being Independence Day. They are so patriotic over here—they are proud to be Americans with flags outside their homes and buildings. All those things are a new experience for us and we’re just loving it.” The Tritton’s took three runners to the Pocono meeting and got the money with Letspendanitetogetha (1.50-4). It was the pacer’s second victory since making the US his home. Jordan Stratton again took the lines. Elsewhere in the US, former Kevin Pizzuto-trained speedster Majordan (Art Major-Benelise (Vintner) won his first North American start in 1.49-3 over the Scioto Downs 5/8ths mile track at Columbus, Ohio. Part-owner Gordon Banks posted that the pacer, who this year won the $100,000 Newcastle G1 Mile when handled by Todd McCarthy, was in front before the quarter in a zippy 26.2. “He then cut the half in 54.4, pulling away to win by two and a half widening lengths,” Banks added. “Thanks to Virgil Morgan Jnr for a great training job and to Brett Miller for a nice wire-to-wire drive. Also congratulations to our new co-owners in Ned Hodkinson and Milton Leeman.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

As a 100/1 shot, Dark Side was certainly the roughie of the harness racing field in the running of the West Diggers Tamworth Pace (2360m) at Tamworth Paceway, but he came up trumps. Maddison Simon took the drive for her grandfather and trainer Len Simon behind the Mach Three nine-year-old gelding, owned and raced by Maureen Simon, Len's wife. "I held the lead and was hoping for the best - hoping that he could hold it all the way, and he did," Maddison said. "Once we all settled down into the race, I was just hoping to hold that lead." To watch this race click here Dark Side notched his third win for the season, with Maddison guiding him to two wins in October last year over 1980m. "He [Len] said that he [Dark Side] worked well in track work this week and I didn't really believe him but he was right," Maddison said. The race certainly had some challenges for Dark Side, who had commenced from the three barrier. Dark Side had opposition not long after the start, with the first lot of pressure coming from the Clayton Harmey-trained Choisir Damoure (Jake Hughes). That was followed by $2.40 race favourite Azur Express (Blake Hughes), before Got The Scoop (Anthony Varga) applied pressure on Dark Side. Another challenge came from the Tony Missen-trained Are You With Me (Tom Ison), who put in a three-wide run from the back of the field just before the bell sounded. "He (Are You With Me) got his head in front on the final turn," Maddison said. "I was a bit concerned then but Dark Side just come through and held on." She added: "We were both head to head down the home straight." Art I Special (Scotty-Jon Welsh) was 2.4m away in third place. Maddison picked up the The Pub Group Drive of the Night. With the lifting of the regional racing zones last Wednesday, the base prize money has increased from $4000 to $6000. It had been at $4000 since May 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of the Northern Daily Leader

One of Queensland’s most exciting two-year-olds, Uncle Shank, is to go up for sale at the Mixed Standardbred Online Auction, to be conducted by Darren Ebert & Co from July 17 to 19. Uncle Shank, who was successful on debut in 1:57.6 at Albion Park and finished a close fourth in the QBred Breeders Classic, is eligible for the QBred race series with a $100,000 Final on July 27. The Warrawee Needy colt and his dam, Presidential Night, and Gotta Go Cullect yearling half-sister are also among the entries. Other racehorses include the QBred Breeders Classic 2YO Final winner Amaya Becomes, recent Albion Park winner Feel The Reign and Doolittle Di, a younger sister to Queensland’s leading three-year-old Governor Jujon. There’s four weanlings in the sale including two colts by the world champion trotter Sebastian K and a filly by the fastest two-year-old trotter ever to stand ‘down under’, Centurion ATM.  The sale has attracted several untried stock including yearlings, two-year-olds and three-year-olds. Bidding will open on Friday, July 17 at 10am and close on Sunday, July 19 at 4pm. Bids can be registered by logging onto the website www.darrenebertauctioneer.com.au and following the link to Elite Auctions. Further information from Darren Ebert on phone 0410 688 176 or email ebertancoauctioneer@bigpond.com   by Peter Wharton

Ride High gifted sports' lovers another insight into his audacious talent with a dominant display at Tabcorp Park tonight. Having dropped jaws with his 25.8-second finishing burst a fortnight ago, Ride High reinforced his brilliance in the Melton City Council Sprint, with his 1:50.8 mile rate the equal third quickest ever recorded at Tabcorp Park Melton, and produced despite the cool, windy conditions and the plugs being left in. Reinswoman Kima Frenning told Trots Vision post-race “it’s a real privilege to get to drive a horse like him”. “He really is a once-in-a-lifetime horse and to be able to say I won two races on him is pretty special,” she said, having won by 13 metres from Courageous Saint after a 27.3-second first quarter and then getting home in a 53.6-second last half. “I said to (trainer) Clayton (Tonkin) before the race ‘do you want to pull the plugs to see how fast he can go?’,” she said, but again she’s didn’t need to. “It’s scary to think he’s untapped still. It’s pretty freaky. He does this in second gear. “He’s real professional, he knows where the line is and he knows when he has to race. I’m sure there was plenty more there.” RELIVE RIDE HIGH'S FINISHING BURST AND HEAR FROM KIMA POST-RACE: In a soundcloud interview Tonkin told Andrew Bensley post-race that Ride High was “an awesome specimen. He did it quite easily.” “I think you will get a real shock when (Kima) does open him up, what he can run, but we don’t want to break him down. He’s a beautiful big horse, but he’s just such a gorgeous moving horse. He gets across the ground so easily.” Tonkin told Bensley that Ride High was “the best horse I’ve put my hands, just on sheer brilliance and untapped potential”, and that he would now plot a course to the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup on October 12. “I have to sit down and decide where I’m going to head before that. He will have a few runs to harden him up so he’s spot on (for) Vic Cup,” Tonkin said. “His work’s always brilliant, but he was on his toes more tonight. Bringing him away and getting him under lights and getting him amongst it all again, it just tightens him up every time.” HEAR THE FULL INTERVIEW OF CLAYTON TONKIN TALKING TO ANDREW BENSLEY: AndrewBensley · Clayton Tonkin   HRV - Michael Howard  

Will he or won't he? It's the question many are asking about Reactor Now's ability to measure up to metropolitan grade racing. And if you ask one of the men that knows him best, you'll get a pretty confident answer. Top driver Josh Aiken has partnered his father David's horse in its last seven-straight triumphs, which have come at Shepparton, Kilmore and Bendigo. He's been breaking the clock and winning by good margins, but now comes his biggest test since joining the Aiken stable from Michelle Wight's team last year. "You see it so often. Horses fly through their grades and they hit their mark once they get to that metro level," Josh Aiken said. "He definitely feels like the horse that is going to go on with the job. "He's blessed with a stack of gate speed, he's very tough, he's got good high-end speed and I think he's going to be a versatile horse going forward. "He's got all the right ingredients to take that next step and be a really serious horse. You live in hope as a trainer and a driver so you just hope that it happens. "I'd back him to say that he's going to take that next step and be a genuine country cups contender come summer." Reactor Now, who has won nine of 12 career races, will come from the back row in Saturday night's COGS Regional Challenge Pace Final (1720m, NR 70-79). His main rival looks to be the in-form Eureka, who has drawn in barrier four. "It's an interesting race," Aiken said. "I can probably see a situation where Streitkid crosses early and Eureka comes across and finds the running line, and hopefully I can follow Bullys Delight through and lob in a pretty handy spot, whether that's one-out one back or one-out two back. "I think it will be a pretty fast mile rate. I think it will be a good race." Aiken will be looking to Reactor Now to become one of the pin-up boys of the stable with news top-line pacers Leonidas, Bringitonhome and Ideal Star are all off to the United States on Monday to race abroad. Both Leonidas and Bringitonhome had been engaged to race at Melton, but have been scratched from their respective races due to imminent flights. Aiken said he was looking forward to his first trip back to Victorian harness racing headquarters on Saturday night. It will be the first Saturday evening program since the move away from regional racing, which started back in early April. As well as Reactor Now, Aiken will also partner Sassy Pants in the Alderbaran Park Trot (2240m, NR 70-79). TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden tackle the Tabcorp Park Melton card on SENTrack from 5.30-9.30pm on 1593AM in Melbourne, 1539AM in Sydney, 657AM in Perth, 801AM in Gosford, 96.9FM in Ingham, 99.1FM in Atherton and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app.   The good oil from the Vic trials circuit Tabcorp Park Melton, R4 N5, Ride High The outstanding pacer is on the comeback trail and appeared to be very sharp at his trial victory. He has only suffered defeat once in eleven starts to date but he has only raced twice since winning the Breeders Crown in 2018 with his latest performance being in December. He pushed forward to find the lead and dominated the trial. REPORT Tabcorp Park Melton, R5 N6, Wobelee Put in a slashing trial performance to finish second. He settled down last of the four runners, moved away from the inside on the home turn and flew home late in a slick final half of 56.0 seconds. REPORT & REPLAY     HRV - Tim O'Connor

Huge harness racing fan Stevie Blacker has shown an expert eye when it comes to buying former Kiwi pacers and now he's successfully branched off - as a driver. The likeable Blacker, who hails from Mortlake in Victoria's western district, had his first-ever official race drive at Mildura yesterday afternoon and came up trumps. He handled four-year-old gelding Kolovos (Bettors Delight-Queen Camille (Christian Cullen), a horse he owns, for his good mate, Horsham trainer Aaron Dunn. "The COVID-19 has played a bit of role because normally I'm right into football during the winter months and I'm usually umpiring," Blacker said. "But it was probably Aaron's father Barry who got me into it, because he was saying that there were very few trials drivers at Horsham, so why didn't I give it a go?" he said. So Blacker took his advice and got his licence to drive in trials. "After three drives I wasn't fussed either way, then I drove one of the horses I own, which I think was Cool and Calculated and he went super! That was the turning point. I thought: 'Wow! How long's this been going on?! "I started thinking about maybe driving in races, so I went to a lot of trials and there were heaps of people like Geoff Senior and others who were terrific in putting me on." Blacker said he had only recently been licenced to drive. "I sort of picked out the Mildura meeting for my first race drive. It did work out well when Aaron put Kolovos in with my five-point concession claim," he said. And Blacker did the rest...with all the poise of a veteran. Pushing Kolovos out of the gate, Blacker was unable to cross Tracer Bullet to get to the lead, but he didn't get flustered by having to race in the death-seat. When Tracer Bullet kicked to a narrow advantage on the home corner and appeared the winner, Blacker got to work urging Kolovos, who found plenty over the final stages to post a memorable and popular win. Watch the race replay here. Kolovos and Stevie Blacker after their memorable win Blacker grew up around horses. Some of his family was involved in thoroughbreds, but others were caught up by the legendary deeds of the mighty trotter of the 1970s, Maoris Idol (40 wins from 46 starts), trained by Ric Healy at Marnoo. "My brother and I spent hours when we were young playing around with an old cart, built like a sulky, that was made specially for us," Blacker said. "I suppose I did have in the back of my mind that one day I would like to have go at driving - but I really did think I'd missed my chance!" the 47 year old said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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Talented Queensland mares Demeter and Laughing Emoji are the latest recruits bound for the ever increasing North American market. Buoyed by the deeds of world champion pacing mare Shartin, the appetite for ‘downunder’ pacing mares has hit fever pitch. And the performance across the weekend of former Victorian mare Soho Burning Love at the Meadowlands winning the Mares Open in 1:48.1 has further underlined the quality heading north in recent seasons. Connections of both Demeter and Laughing Emoji accepted offers they couldn’t refuse. Demeter, trained by former Leeton horseman Reece Maguire has proven to be an outstanding money-spinner since coming to the Sunshine State where she has won four of her nine starts. All four victories took place at Albion Park. Overall, Demeter has won 10 of her 40 starts to date. In her first start at the famed Breakfast Creek oval, the Art Major – Weka Lass mare took a personal best time of 1:54.2. At her most recent start, Demeter finished second behind boom pacer Speech Is Silver at Albion Park on June 6 in a time of 1:56.9 for 2138m. Demeter is a half-sister to talented Victorian based mare Reciprocity (16 wins - $158k). Meanwhile, Laughing Emoji also created a tidy record in Brisbane following her purchase from New Zealand as a three-year-old. The big striding Mach Three mare was prepared by Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen and all of her 11 (from 53 starts) were recorded on Australian soil. Laughing Emoji was purchased from the south island of New Zealand following her second start. Nine of her victories took place at Albion Park while she also registered a victory on the half mile Redcliffe circuit. Her best winning mile rate of 1:52.9 took place at Menangle during a Sydney campaign back in 2018. This season, Laughing Emoji has won seven races. At her final Australian start, Laughing Emoji finished fifth at Albion Park behind Corsini in a time of 1:57.1 after being caught without cover.   Chris Barsby
Trixton produced the winners of both finals of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old trotting fillies at The Meadowlands on Friday night (July 3). Competing in the $160,000 final, Ab’sattitudexpress took full advantage of a box seat trail to score by 1-3/4 lengths in a new lifetime mark of 1:52.4. The filly has won four of her six starts and $111,000 in stakes. Play Trix On Me, who started from the outside gate, settled down second last before storming home to win the $128,000 final in 1:53.6. A dual NYSS champion, the filly has won seven out of nine for $204,850. Brilliant Royalty For Life filly Warrawee Vicky, last year’s Ontario Sires Stakes two-year-old points leader, returned to the winning list in a $73,067 division of the OSS Gold Series at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday night (July 2). The filly led from go to whoa in 1:54.4. Trixton has jumped to the top of this year’s North American 3YO trotting sires’ premiership, while Royalty For Life is sixth. The Trixton two-year-old colt Utopia made an auspicious debut at Shepparton on Thursday (July 2), winning by an amazing 82.5 metres at a track record 2:02.6 rate. Bred by Nick Hooper and Paul Graydon, the colt is out of a Muscles Yankee mare, Gluteus Maximus, and thus carries a 3x2 cross to Muscles Yankee. Watch the replay here. Lucky Chucky took the siring honours at Albion Park on Friday night (July 3) with a winning double. Aurora, a three-year-old filly, won a heat of the Springboard Series to make it four on end, while The Reaper, a four-year-old gelding, overcame a 30 metre handicap to post win No. 6. To complete a big week, the Wishing Stone four-year-old Phoebe Onyx notched his fourth success at Addington, New Zealand on Friday night (July 3), carving out a last 800 in 58.7. Trixton, Royalty For Life, Lucky Chucky and Wishing Stone are members of the Stallions Australasia frozen semen roster.   By Peter Wharton
The first weekend of July proved a red-letter one for emerging, young sire He’s Watching. His sensational three-year-old son Tattoo Artist set a Canadian season’s mark of 1:48.4 winning the $107,200 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday (July 4). The colt was sent straight to the top from the No. 8 gate and was never headed, scoring by three lengths with the last quarter in 26.8. It was his third win from four tries this year. Another He’s Watching colt, Examiner Hanover, finished runner-up in 1:50 in the $106,400 OSS Gold division. The following day He’s Watching’s brilliant three-year-old daughter Watch My Speed overwhelmed her rivals in 1:56.4 in the time-honoured $64,700 Kin Pace at Clinton Raceway, Canada. The New Zealand bred three-year-old filly Hereslooknatyou won at her first attempt in the northern hemisphere at Saratoga, New York in 1:57.6, while the colt He’s Got A Vendetta scored in 1:57.6 at Kawartha Downs, Canada. He’s Watching produced two ‘new’ winners at the Redcliffe meeting in the two-year-old filly Joy Maketr and the three-year-old gelding Illbewatching (1:57.9). Topzavski, a He’s Watching three-year-old, tasted success for the fifth time at Mildura. He’s Watching 3, 1:46.8 ($1.1 million) is standing this season at Luke Primmer’s Tipperary Equine, Young (NSW).   By Peter Wharton
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 
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