Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) stewards have finalised an inquiry into analysts’ reports of the finding of strychnine in the urine sample taken from Midas Rhythm after that greyhound won Race 2, the Sky Racing Maiden at The Gardens meeting on Friday 9 August 2013.
Evidence was taken from trainer John Mooney and Science Manager of the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) Dr Adam Cawley. Written evidence was also tendered from the ARFL, Racing Analytical Services Victoria and Racing NSW Head Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann.
Mr Mooney gave evidence that he had not administered any strychnine to the greyhound despite having present an unopened bottle of the unregistered product ‘Dr Bells’ (which is known to contain strychnine) at the time of the notification of the irregularity and his kennels being inspected. Mr Mooney’s evidence of not administering ‘Dr Bells’ to Midas Rhythm was supported by evidence from Dr Cawley who said there was a low level of strychnine being present in the sample taken from Midas Rhythm.
Mr Mooney said the source of the strychnine in the sample may have come from ‘Talon Rat Bait’ that he had frequently used around his kennels to kill vermin. However a sample of this product was collected during the course of the inspection and tested by the ARFL and found not to contain strychnine.
Mr Mooney subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 83 (2) (a) of having been responsible for the presentation of Midas Rhythm for the race in question other than free of any prohibited substance in that the urine sample taken from Midas Rhythm after the race was found to contain strychnine.
Mr Mooney was subsequently fined $1,500.
In considering the penalty, stewards took into account GRNSW’s Penalty Guidelines which has a starting point for Category 2 substances as 156 weeks. However, the penalty given to Mr Mooney was heavily mitigated by his good record of having never come before stewards for any offence in more than 50 years of registration as a trainer, his guilty plea, his personal circumstances, the low level of the prohibited substance and the high number of samples taken from greyhounds trained by Mr Mooney. Notwithstanding the above considerations, stewards are mindful of the potential for damage to the industry reputation caused by such reports.
Under GAR 83 (4), Midas Rhythm was disqualified from the race in question.
Mr Mooney was advised of his right of appeal.