By: Jay Rooney
Trainer Ben Owen was hit with two charges at a stewards’ inquiry yesterday into allegations he treated Rhino’s Lad on race day at Pinjarra last month.
Owen pleaded not guilty to a charge of administering the banned substance, nitrolingual spray, to Rhino’s Lad in the wash bay before he won race six on December 13.
Owen, 45, pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing the spray at the races without gaining permission from stewards. The inquiry was adjourned to allow Owen’s legal counsel, Tim Lyons, to provide a written submission in relation to the race-day treatment charge by next Thursday.
Stewards denied a request from Lyons for Owen’s suspension until the completion of the inquiry to be lifted.
The ChemCentre reported the urine sample taken from Rhino’s Lad on December 13 was negative for any banned substances.
ChemCentre’s Charles Russo and Racing and Wagering WA vet Judith Medd told the inquiry that glyceryl trinitrate, which is contained in the nitrolingual spray, is virtually undetectable in a horse’s blood and urine samples.
Tests conducted on the spray indicated it to be consistent with being nitrolingual spray.
Medd said the substance had the potential to be performance enhancing in a horse because it increased blood flow and the capacity to carry oxygen.
Owen yesterday denied administering the spray to Rhino’s Lad, despite evidence from a licensed stablehand who told stewards on the day that she witnessed Owen “give something” to the horse in the wash bay.
Owen told the inquiry he used the spray on himself because he was feeling unwell.
The spray is a medication prescribed to Owen to prevent an angina attack.
He was furious stewards seized the spray from him on the day, claiming “it endangered my life”.
Stewards also questioned Owen about evidence he gave in an interview with stewards on December 13, in which he did not admit or deny treating Rhino’s Lad or admit to using the spray on himself.
Owen yesterday said he was stressed on the day because of his health and his other starter, Roman Skylab, being galloped on in race four, which led to Rhino’s Lad being presented late to the mounting enclosure.