RWWA Stewards yesterday concluded the inquiry into the non-presentation of SPURRED IN FLIGHT for the collection of samples at Belmont trials on 23 June 2015 and the reports of the laboratories from urine samples taken subsequently at the Ascot Race course sample collection facility indicating the presence of 2-(1-hydroxyethy) promazine sulfoxide (metabolite of acepromazine).

At the inquiry on 27 October 2015 Mr Morton pleaded guilty to the charge issued under AR175(p) relating to his failure to present SPURRED IN FLIGHT to the swab officials for testing as directed.

Stewards found Mr Morton guilty to the charge under AR177A with the particulars being that Mr Morton as the trainer brought SPURRED IN FLIGHT to Belmont Trials on 23 June 2015 to compete in Trial 5, for the purpose of obtaining a permit to start as a result of an embargo on the horse, and a urine sample taken from the filly detected the presence of the prohibited substance 2-(1-hydroxyethyl) promazine sulfoxide (metabolite of acepromazine).

In assessing penalty to both charges Stewards took into account

  • Mr Morton’s personal circumstances, character references and good record over a long period of registered involvement.
  • That the prohibited substance detected was only the metabolite and did not include the parent drug and in consequence any effect on the horse was negligible.
  • The nature of the substance involved being one commonly used in racing stables.
  • That he had pleaded guilty to the charge under AR175(p).
  • That the Stewards were ultimately able to obtain a sample as intended which satisfied the inquiry to the requisite standard as to the status of the horse at the time of the trial.
  • Past cases under AR 177A where in relation to similar substances fines were issued.
  • That the matter involved trials as opposed to racing to which there are no stake money or wagering considerations that apply.
  • That SPURRED IN FLIGHT did fail to be loaded into its barrier and thus the embargo remained.
  • That the failure to present the horse as directed for testing struck at the heart of the proper control and regulation of racing and that were it not for the fact that the sample ultimately obtained by the Stewards was able to be analysed and determine the status of the horse at the time of the trial, that a lengthy period of disqualification would otherwise have applied for the breach of AR175 (p).

In relation to the penalty for the breach of AR177A, Stewards determined to impose a fine of $4,000

In relation to the penalty for the breach of AR175 (p) the Stewards determined to impose a fine of $6,000

The total amount of fines therefore being $10,000.

As there have been no prior cases of this nature involving AR175 (p) the Stewards made it clear in their determination that, amongst other things, had the level been higher, the parent drug detected or a more serious substance been present disqualification would have been inevitable. Equally had the Stewards been unable to eventually obtain the test and rely on the result accordingly, again disqualification would have followed. It therefore should not be not assumed that fines are the more likely outcome for such offences or that the imposition of a fine in these circumstances is a binding precedent for all other cases involving this rule.

As a matter of deterrence, all trainers are placed on notice that any failures to fail to comply with directions to present horses for testing are highly likely to result in disqualification if such action serves, in any way, to compromise the Stewards ability to discharge the relevant powers afforded to them through the Rules of Racing.

Denis Borovica
General Manager Racing Integrity