Racing Victoria (RV) Stewards have today announced their determinations on show cause notices issued on 24 July 2015 to licensed Victorian trainers Lee and Shannon Hope, Mark Kavanagh, Danny O’Brien and Peter Moody.
Each trainer was asked by RV Stewards to show cause in written and oral submissions as to why their licence to train should not be suspended under Australian Rule of Racing 8(z) until the independent Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board’s hearing and determination of serious charges issued against them by RV Stewards.
AR 8(z) states in summary that the Stewards may suspend any licence or make any other direction or order relating to a person who has been charged with breaching the Australian Rules of Racing and whose continued participation in racing might pose an unacceptable risk to, prejudice or undermine the image, interests or integrity of racing.
Each trainer has been issued with multiple charges, including those in the alternative, by RV Stewards for breaches of the Australian Rules of Racing after horses in their care returned samples containing cobalt in excess of the permitted threshold of 200 micrograms per litre in urine.
The charges against Lee and Shannon Hope are set down for hearing and determination by the RAD Board on 15, 16 and 19 October 2015. The RAD Board is yet to schedule hearing dates for Mr Kavanagh, Mr O’Brien and Mr Moody.
Having considered the submissions tendered by each trainer, RV Stewards have formed the opinion that the continued participation of each trainer might undermine the image of racing. RV Stewards have formed this opinion based on the following:
1. that the charges laid against each trainer are serious prohibited substance charges which relate to the integrity of racing; and
2. that the Stewards consider, based on current evidence, that the case against each trainer is strong.
Having formed this opinion, RV Stewards then sought to consider the appropriate order which may be made under AR 8(z). In determining this, RV Stewards noted the following:
1. that each trainer intends to defend the serious charges laid against them, including but not limited to charges issued under AR 175(h)(i) and AR 175(h)(ii) for the deliberate administration of a prohibited substance, and contends that there are significant questions to be tried at the hearing of the charges;
2. that each trainer’s training business is large and dire consequences would likely follow for them, their business and their employees if their licence was suspended pending the hearing and determination of the charges;
3. that a negative message would be sent to the racing public if each trainer was permitted to continue to profit from prizemoney earned from major races which attract national and international public attention, pending the hearing and determination of the charges; and
4. that in order to address the negative impact on the image of racing by the continued participation of each trainer in racing, it is appropriate that protective action is taken by the Stewards.
Having considered the above matters, RV Stewards have ordered that each trainer’s percentage of prizemoney earned in Group and Listed races conducted in Victoria on and after Monday, 3 August 2015 be held by RV pending the final determination of the serious charges before the RAD Board.
In the event that a trainer is found:
1. not guilty of all charges issued under AR 175(h)(i) and AR 175(h)(ii) the prizemoney held by RV will be distributed to the trainer; or
2. guilty of any charge issued under AR 175(h)(i) or AR 175(h)(ii), RV Stewards will submit that the permanent forfeiture of the prizemoney held by RV ought to occur and may be taken into account as part of any penalty imposed.
AR 175(h)(i) and AR 175(h)(ii) are the Australian Rules of Racing under which RV Stewards have charged each trainer for the deliberate administration of the prohibited substance cobalt.
Unless otherwise published in the conditions, trainers receive 10% of any prizemoney earned by a racehorse in their care in Group and Listed races conducted in Victoria.
Pursuant to Victorian Local Rule of Racing 6B(1), should a trainer be aggrieved by the decision of the Stewards, he may appeal to the RAD Board by no later than 5:00pm on Thursday, 6 August 2015.
The Stewards reserve the right to revisit the terms of this order should there be a potentially material change in the circumstances relating to the matters which are the subject of the show cause notice. In that event, the Stewards would give your client an appropriate opportunity to be heard prior to any alteration to the Stewards’ order.
Quotes attributable to RV Chairman of Stewards, Terry Bailey
“Having considered all evidence and submissions, Stewards are of the opinion that the continued participation of each trainer might undermine the image of racing given the serious prohibited substance charges they are facing and that the cases against them are strong.
“The Stewards are of the further opinion that elevated cobalt levels are a serious breach of the Rules of Racing and given the number and profile of the trainers involved it has placed significant global attention on Victorian racing and the image and conduct of our sport.
“The Stewards consider that racing’s interests are best served by safeguarding the reputation and image of racing, particularly in races which attract significant national and international attention.
“In considering the appropriate action having formed their opinion, Stewards noted that each trainer intends to defend the charges brought against them for the administration of a prohibited substance and that a suspension pending the hearing and determination of charges would have large and dire consequences for each trainer, their business and their employees.
“The Stewards consider that the order to retain in trust each trainers’ percentage of prizemoney earned in Group and Listed races in Victoria pending the hearing of their serious charges is necessary to protect the image of racing.
“The Stewards believe this sends an appropriate message to the wider racing industry and public that trainers will not profit from major races, those which attract significant national and international attention, when serious offence charges laid against them are still to be tried.”