By: Elly Bradfield
A Queensland horse trainer says he will appeal against a $9,000 penalty imposed after one of his horses tested positive to methamphetamine.
The positive sample was taken from his horse Party Till Dawn at a race meeting in Toowoomba in June last year.
The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) said the drug could have impacted the horse’s health and the image of the sport.
“I think most people who understand the situation and know the story understand that we’re probably going to beat the case,” trainer Ben Currie told the ABC.
Owners transferred the horse to Mr Currie’s stables weeks earlier from the care of Gold Coast trainer Stephen Jones.
QRIC said the only other instance of a Queensland horse testing positive for methamphetamine was when trainer Cassandra Marsh provided sufficient evidence that her horse, Island Tang, had been in contact with a habitual user of the drug in 2015.
“There’s no proof that the methamphetamine has even gone through the horse’s system,” Mr Currie said.
He said horses broke down methamphetamine to amphetamine, and Party Till Dawn did not test positive to amphetamine.
“We’re pretty confident … that we can beat the charges,” he said.
Claim of sample tampering
In addition to denying the doping charge, Mr Currie claimed the horse’s swab, sent to the Racing Science Centre, was tampered with.
“The security bag was breached and the bag had been opened, so we’re pretty confident that we can beat the charges,” he said.
Mr Currie said the matter would be reviewed internally and then taken to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
He said the chances of a bigger fine were “very, very slim” and suspension was off the table.
“I’m disappointed in the size of the fine, but it’s not unexpected,” he said.
Ward Young, from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, said his group was “absolutely outraged to hear that this particular trainer has not been expelled from racing altogether”.
“It is unsafe for the people who participate in horse racing, it is unethical for the horses who are subject to this, and the racing industry must restore their social licence by kicking out people who deliberately drug and dope race horses,” he said.
“We believe the issue of drugging horses is more widespread than just those cases and that’s why there needs to be such harsh penalties for anyone who engages in this practice.”
In December, Mr Currie was also found guilty and fined $6,000 by the QRIC after his horse Tints tested positive for the banned substance boldenone in Rockhampton on April 8, 2016.
Boldenone is defined as a synthetic steroid hormone resembling testosterone in its ability to promote the growth of muscle.
He said at the time he would also appeal against that ruling.