Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) stewards have finalised deliberations on a penalty following analysts’ reports of the finding of caffeine in the sample taken from Here’s Nazza after it won Race 3 at the Wentworth Park meeting on 16 December 2013.
Consistent with the protocols established for dealing with such reports under the GRNSW Prohibited Substance Penalty System, Here’s Nazza’s trainer Michael Hooper was advised of the reports received from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory and Racing Science Centre, Queensland, via written notification.
Upon advice from a GRNSW integrity officer of the irregularity, Mr Hooper advised that he had accidentally knocked a drink containing caffeine from its position in his vehicle and it was his belief that the greyhound had consumed some of the drink at that time, although he had not thought so prior to the advice from the laboratory. He felt adequate steps had been taken to prevent the greyhound from consuming any of the drink but in hindsight he should have taken the matter up with stewards at the track upon presentation.
Following alternate correspondence, Mr Hooper pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 83 (2) (a) of having presented Here’s Nazza for the event other than free of any prohibited substance.
After GRNSW had considered submissions from Mr Hooper on penalty, a suspension of ten weeks was imposed, commencing on 26 May 2014 and expiring on 2 August 2014.
In considering penalty, stewards took into account such factors as Mr Hooper’s record of having no previous offence in more than 21 years of registration as a trainer, a lack of evidence of any support for the greyhound on the day, the nature of the substance involved (Category 4), the moderate level reported, his guilty plea and admissions in determining the possible source of the reports. Similar penalties involving this substance were considered with some further mitigation given due to Mr Hooper’s significant industry contribution at a representative and voluntary level, and references entered on his behalf.
Notwithstanding those factors, a measure of general deterrence is implied in the circumstances whereby negligence has been admitted in the carrying of a caffeine laden drink in the same compartment where greyhounds may be exposed.
Under GAR 83 (4), Here’s Nazza was disqualified from the event in question and the placings amended accordingly.