GREYHOUND Racing NSW (GRNSW) has opened an inquiry into an incident which occurred in race five at Wentworth Park on Boxing Day where the wrong greyhound competed in and won the event in the place of its kennel mate.
When kennel staff were identifying the greyhounds post race, it was discovered that the winner, thought to be the $3.20 favourite Il Bacaro, was actually the greyhound Asa Killa Queen.
Both greyhounds are trained by leading NSW conditioner Anthony Azzopardi, who explained to Australian Racing Greyhound that the mix-up was unintentional.
“As everyone knows we are in the middle of moving to Victoria and in the morning we did the dogs, like always, and then I took off to drop off a trailer load of things we are taking to Melbourne,” he said.
“Before I left I told them (his workers) which dog to take, but I was gone for most of the day and when I got back the boys had already left for Wentworth Park.
“When I got home I saw Il Bacaro’s kennel empty, so I thought they had taken the right dog, but during the day when they were letting them out, the dogs, which both have white collars, had got switched around.
Azzopardi remained unaware of the situation until he received notification post-race.
“I watched the race and then I got the call to say that it was Asa Killa Queen,” he said.
“At first I thought ‘that can’t be right’ so I walked over to check and I went straight to Asa Killa Queen’s kennel – I pulled him out and there was Il Bacaro.”
Azzopardi said it was a sickening feeling when he discovered that the mix-up had occurred, but he does not blame his workers for the accident, stating that it was a genuine mistake.
“I was absolutely devastated, in 26 years I have never done that before,” he said.
“There were no intentions behind it at all, it was just an unfortunate mistake and at the end of the day this is why we have microchips to stop this kind of thing from happening.
“No one is perfect, it is not the boys fault, they are still learning.”
Azzopardi says he takes full responsibility for the wrong dog being presented at the track, however he says he is not willing to take the blame for the dog making it into the race after it had been identified incorrectly by Wentworth Park staff on multiple occasions leading into the event.
“At the end of the day it was my responsibility when the dog left its kennel and when it arrived at Wentworth Park – I understand that – and when I am in the wrong I will always own up to it,” he said.
“I won’t take responsibility as far as the dog making into the race – they (the track staff) should have picked that up when the dog went over to the table.
“The dog has gone through two microchips checks without it getting picked up and then won the race – I don’t know how it happened.
“After the dog went over the table and was identified as Il Bacaro as far as we were to know it was the right dog.”
Adding to the controversy, after the mix-up was uncovered, Stewards disqualified Il Bacaro from the event acting under GAR 64 (1). This meant that no monies wagered on El Bacaro were eligible to be refunded as all bets are considered ‘all-in’ when there is a disqualification.
Acting under LR 92 (1) (a), GRNSW have also stood down Il Bacaro and Asa Killa Queen from competing in any event until the inquiry is completed, with Asa Killa Queen withdrawn from its engagement in a heat of the Group 2 Gosford Cup on Sunday evening.
GRNSW has also ordered an urgent review of the GRNSW Greyhound Racing Rules, particularly GAR 56 (2) (a) which determines what constitutes a non-starter in a specific event.
The NSW Greyhound Breeders Owners Trainers Association (GBOTA), which is responsible for conducting meetings at Wentworth Park, issued a statement to say employees involved have already tendered preliminary evidence, but that it will await the outcomes of the GRNSW inquiry before finalising its actions.