Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) stewards have completed an inquiry into analysts’ reports that the urine sample taken from Ho Hey – after it won Race 9 at the Maitland Greyhound Club’s meeting on 19 September 2013 – had been analysed and confirmed to contain the prohibited substance pholcodine.
Evidence was taken from trainers Noel McCaskie and Kerrie Davis, as well as from Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) Science Manager Dr Adam Cawley. Written evidence was submitted from ARFL Senior Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann, the ARFL, Racing Science Centre, QLD and GRNSW. Mr McCaskie also tendered written material relative to the substance and its properties.
Following submissions from Mr McCaskie and Ms Davis, stewards were satisfied that Mr McCaskie had been responsible for the preparation and presentation of Ho Hey for the race and therefore came under the purvey of GAR 83 (2) (a).
The inquiry heard that while in Mr McCaskie’s care, between the dates of 28 July to 4 August, Ho Hey had been treated for kennel cough and had been administered 3 mls of Benadryl dry tickly cough formulation, which contains pholcodine, twice daily. The substance is known for its lengthy retention in the system of a greyhound.
Mr McCaskie subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 83 (2) (a) in that he presented Ho Hey for the race in question other than free of any prohibited substance.
Following submissions on penalty, Mr McCaskie was fined $500. Acting under the provisions of GAR 95 (3), the penalty was suspended in full for a period of 12 months, conditional on Mr McCaskie not breaching the rules relating to prohibited substances in that period.
Having regard to the particular personal circumstances involved in this case, Ms Davis was issued with a reprimand regarding presentation of a greyhound in her name and reminded of the possible implications evident in this matter.
In assessing penalty, consideration was given to Mr McCaskie’s previously unblemished record over nearly 16 years of registration, his guilty plea, the extremely low level of the substance reported which was equivalent to the lowest ever recorded, his assistance to both the inquiry and on notification of the irregularity, references supplied and the absence of any significant kennel support for Ho Hey. Accurate documentation supporting the treatment regime was produced to the inquiry.
It was the opinion of the stewards that Mr McCaskie had a reasonable belief that the administration regime adopted would have resulted in the absence of any substance being present at the time of presentation.
Ho Hey was disqualified from the event and the placings amended accordingly.