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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v K A Little - Decision on a Request for a Ruling dated 14 December 2018 - Chair, Mr T Utikere

Created on 19 December 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE

JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY

UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003

IN THE MATTER of the Rules of Thoroughbred Racing

BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU)

Informant

AND KA LITTLE

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Mr T Utikere (Chairman)

Mrs N Moffatt (Member)

Parties: Mr S Irving (for the RIU)

Ms K Little (as the Respondent)

DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE ON A REQUEST FOR A RULING DATED 14 DECEMBER 2018

THE REQUEST

[1] The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) have filed a Request for a Ruling seeking the disqualification of BELTOY from Race 5 of the Taranaki Racing Incorporated Meeting on 7 June 2018. They seek the ruling pursuant to Rules 804(2) and 804(8) of the New Zealand Rules of Thoroughbred Racing.

[2] The relevant provisions of Rules 804(2) and 804(8) state:

804(2) When a horse which has been brought to a Racecourse or similar racing facility for the purpose of engaging in a Race or trial to which the Third Appendix hereto applies is found by a Tribunal conducting an inquiry to have had administered to it or have had present in its metabolism a Prohibited Substance, as defined in Part A of Prohibited Substance Regulations, the Trainer and any other person who in the opinion of such Tribunal conducting such inquiry was in charge of such horse at any relevant time commits a breach of these Rules.


804(8) Any horse connected with a breach of sub-Rule (2) or (3) or (4) or (5) or (6) of this Rule shall be, in addition to any other penalty which may be imposed, disqualified from any Race or trial to which the Third Appendix hereto applies and/or be liable to a period of disqualification not exceeding five years.

[3] The Committee is in receipt of the Notice of Appointment, a copy of Information A7169 along with the relevant Rule Provisions. The RIU have also submitted an Agreed Summary of Facts which intimates that Ms Little consents to the disqualification. In light of this, we do not see the need for a teleconference and will consider the Request from the RIU on the papers.

[4] The Summary of Facts (some of the Summary's content has been redacted by the Committee as it has considered it appropriate to suppress such information) identifies the following points:

The Respondent Kylie Ann Little is the holder of a Class ‘A’ Trainers Licence issued by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR).

On the 7th June 2018 the horse ‘Beltoy’ won Race 5 – NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race maiden 1200 metres - at the Taranaki Racing Incorporated meeting at Pukekura Raceway.

‘Beltoy’ was then a three year old filly trained by Ms Little and owned by 67yo retired farmer David Woodhouse. ‘Beltoy’ won the race earning a stake of $7,500 and a Pearl Series Bonus of $11,500, totalling $19,000. Theses stakes have not been paid out.

‘Beltoy’ was post-race swabbed and on the 04 July New Zealand Racing Laboratory Services (NZRLS) issued a Certificate of Analysis detailing the sample positive to the controlled drug Methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine is a Class A controlled drug as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. It is a Prohibited Substance within the meaning of the Rules and its presence in a race day sample is, prima facie, a breach of the Rules.

On 04 July Ms Little was spoken to at her home address in Carterton. She stated that ‘Beltoy’ was transported to the races on the day by her and Mr Woodhouse. She could offer no explanation for the positive result.

Ms Little’s horses are stabled at the Opaki Training Centre, north of Masterton, shared by other trainers.

The four persons, including the RIU swabbing official, who had contact with ‘Beltoy’ in the 48 hours prior to the race were drug tested for Methamphetamine and were all negative.

‘Beltoy’ raced again on the 05 July at Wanganui (2nd) and 21 July at New Plymouth (1st) and both post-race swabs were negative to Prohibited Substances.

Previous Positives

On the 24th November 2017 three equine Methamphetamine positives resulted from the New Plymouth TR meeting at Pukekura Raceway.

The proceeding investigation resulted in a RIU recommendation concluding that the three trainers not be charged for a prohibited substance presentation offence.

In the unique circumstances of their case the RIU considered all the facts and determined that none of the trainers involved should be held liable for the positive swabs. The RIU believed that the trainers could not have done anything to prevent the positive swabs from occurring.

The only commonalities in these three positives were that all three horses had been kept in the Pukekura Raceway ‘visitors yards’ prior to the race, they all wore saddle cloth #3, they won consecutive races and they had all been through the swab box process.

The evidence was summarised in RI Cruickshank’s report:

· There is no evidence that any of the Trainers has either deliberately or mistakenly administered or caused to be administered Methamphetamine to their horses.

· There is no evidence that the actions of any of the Trainers is negligent, careless, reckless, or otherwise which may have caused the positive tests.

· There is no evidence that any of the Trainers or their staff use or used Methamphetamine at or around the time of the positive tests.

· There is no evidence of swab officials using or having used Methamphetamine or being responsible for the positive tests.

· There is no evidence that the Barrier Attendants use or used Methamphetamine at or around the time which may have caused the positive tests.

· There is no evidence that the swab samples have been contaminated.

Conclusion

The evidence indicates that the horses have come into contact with Methamphetamine via unknown ingestion, inhalation or contamination in or around the yards of Pukekura Raceway between 1.30pm and 5.30pm on 24 November 2017. The evidence indicates that the three trainers involved should not be held liable for the Methamphetamine being in their respective horses.

Since then another TR Methamphetamine positive has been recorded from a race meeting at Riccarton Park and a GR Methamphetamine from Cambridge greyhounds (D Schofield – charge proved 29.04.2018).

The TR matter has been heard with admittance to a ‘presentation’ breach which was brought due to significant differences to the New Plymouth cases. No fine was incurred as penalty but the horse was disqualified.

Only two other animal Methamphetamine positives have been previously recorded (TR trainer Tracey Newton in 2014 - admitted to smoking ‘P’ near the horse) and GR trainer D Schofield in 2011.

Current Circumstances

On 7 June 2018 (six months after the first positives) Ms Little also offloaded ‘Beltoy’ in the ‘visitors yards’ at Pukekura Raceway and left the horse essentially unattended, although there were other licence holders present, for some time before transferring her to the tie-ups. (The three trainers of the previous case all left their horses unattended for a short period of time also).

‘Beltoy’ was transported from Masterton to New Plymouth on the morning of the race by Ms Little and Mr Woodhouse in his horse float.

At least two and possibly three other horses who swabbed negative that day were offloaded and kept in the same visitor’s yards for a period of time (as also occurred with other horses from the November positives).

All points and the conclusion in RI Cruickshank’s report also apply to Ms Little’s case.

Samples of soil, grass and water were collected from around ‘Beltoy’s’ yard on 05 July (28 days after the race). These samples tested negative to Methamphetamine, although expert opinion suggests that environmental factors could negate traces of methamphetamine in the grass or soil after that length of time.

On the 21st July ‘Beltoy’ won another race at New Plymouth and provided a clear post-race swab. On this occasion the horse was not kept in the ‘visitors’ yards prior to the race.

Ms Little is 37 years old and has been involved in the Thoroughbred Racing Industry all her life. She has been a licensed trainer since 2003. Her NZTR record details she has had 405 starters and 35 winners.

She has no previous breaches of the Prohibited Substance rule or any other NZTR Rules.

It is therefore concluded that Ms Little is not charged by the RIU for presenting her horse to the races with a prohibited substance in its system. However, as the evidence indicates that ‘Beltoy’ won the race with Methamphetamine in its system, a ‘Ruling’ is sought from the JCA requesting the horse is disqualified from Race 5 of the Taranaki RI meeting on 07 June 2018 – the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race - pursuant to Rule 804(8).

Ms Little and Mr Woodhouse were advised of the RIU decision not to charge and the ‘Request for ‘Ruling’ to the JCA on 23 November. Both consent to the disqualification of ‘Beltoy’ from the race concerned (under the Rules) but request that it be noted unequivocally in the decision that by consenting to the disqualification neither is accepting or admitting any liability or responsibility for the presence of Methamphetamine in the horse’s system.

They also request that the decision notes their belief that the substance had been introduced to the Pukekura Park Raceway track’s facilities by a person or persons unknown and not in any way associated with either Ms Little or Mr Woodhouse.

REASONS

[5] The Committee is satisfied, based on what has been presented, that BELTOY was presented to race, at the Taranaki Racing Incorporated Meeting on 7 June 2018. We are also satisfied that based on the sample analysis it was also found to have had present in its metabolism, a prohibited substance, namely Methamphetamine.

[6] The provision of Rule 804(8) directs the requirement for BELTOY to be disqualified from Race 5 at the Taranaki Racing Incorporated Meeting on 7 June 2018.

[7] There is provision within Rule 804(8) for the horse concerned to also be liable for a possible period of disqualification not exceeding five years. The Committee declines to exercise that discretion in this matter.

[8] The following order is made:

A. That BELTOY is disqualified from Race 5 (NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race Maiden 1200m) of the Taranaki Racing Incorporated Meeting on 7 June 2018. Any financial benefits paid, or to be paid, as a result of BELTOYs placing in that race are to be refunded for redistribution in accordance with the amended placings.

[9] The Committee notes that the last two paragraphs of the Agreed Summary also identify requests from the respondent. The focus of this Committee’s decision is related to the request from the RIU to disqualify BELTOY. As such, we do not intend to be drawn on the issue of liability or origin of the prohibited substance; but by including the two paragraphs referred to above in this decision, in our view this goes some way to accommodating the respondent’s request.

Signed at Palmerston North this 14th day of December 2018.

Mr Tangi Utikere

Chairman

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