By: Shane Anderson
Four-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams is suing the Ballarat Veterinary Practice over the treatment of imported galloper Amralah during the 2015 Spring Carnival.
A Melbourne court has heard that the leading Melbourne Cup chance was treated with a banned substance in the lead-up that forced him to miss Australia’s richest race despite the vet knowing ‘full well’ that the horse was due to run.
Williams and his fellow owners have claimed that this negligence caused them ‘catastrophic loss and harm’.
The Victorian Supreme Court was told on Thursday that Hudson Conway Racing, the private horse racing operation of Williams, paid STG550,000 (A$1.06 million) to purchase Amralah as a tried horse from Europe.
The writ alleges that Hudson Conway engaged the services of Dr Brian Anderson of the Ballarat Veterinary Practice to treat Amralah from around September 2.
It is further alleged that it was made clear to Anderson on September 4 that Amralah was considered a potential Melbourne Cup winner by the stable.
“Anderson is not the local vet on the corner,” Mark Robins, QC, told the court.
“He’s a registered equine specialist.”
It has been claimed that the owners of Amralah missed out on potential winnings in the millions of dollars as well as having to return prizemoney after the horse was disqualified from a race that he had won, the $100,000 Listed Penang Trophy at Morphettville on September 19.
The writ alleges that Amralah was injected by Dr Anderson on September 4 with a long-acting cortisone known as Dexafort, which contains Dexamethasone, and the vet advised that it would take 14 days for the drug to leave the horse’s system.
On October 23, Williams was advised by the South Australian deputy chairman of stewards that Amralah hasd returned a positive test to Dexamethasone after the win on September 19.
Andrew Broadfoot, acting for Dr Anderson, said that the owners agreed to the injection being administered and that they had failed to show how the treatment was negligent.
“The fact that the horse tested positive subsequently does not in itself demonstrate that the selection of the drug was negligent,” Mr Broadfoot told the court.
“What was it about the selection of this drug that led to it being unreasonable?
“What aspect of the advice was unreasonable?”
A notice that was issued by Racing Victoria on May 1 of last year was referenced by Mr Robins as, ‘it was in fact warning veterinary practitioners against the administration of Dexamethasone’.
He added that despite assertions that the horse would be able to run 14 days after treatment the empirical reality is that it would not be able to race a month after.
It is expected that a trial will be held in December.