Racing: No charges in HK drug test cases

By Michael Guerin

No.4 Dreamy Eagle driven by Zac Butcher. Photo / Christine Cornege
No.4 Dreamy Eagle driven by Zac Butcher. Photo / Christine Cornege

Racing bosses have partially backed down on the Hong Kong drug testing controversy but could still face a battle with their most high-profile case.

The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) has announced no charges will be laid against the trainers of three pacers who returned positive swabs after they were tested in the super-sensitive labs in Hong Kong.

The three horses were Harness Jewels winner Delightful Christian, Jewels fourth placegetter Precious Mach and Dreamy Eagle, who won the comparatively minor Northland Cup at Alexandra Park on February 24.

Both Harness Jewels tests were positive to arsenic, which is believed to have got into the two horses' systems after they were treated with a commonly used supplement.

Dreamy Eagle's positive was similarly innocuous, being a positive to capsaicin, which is present in a common substance used to stop horses biting their own tails or fence railings.

Had any of the three swabs been tested in New Zealand they would have come back negative but because they were in the very small percentage sent to Hong Kong, which has more advanced testing, they returned positives.

This has outraged trainers around the country, who fear being stuck in the middle of a game of drug-testing Russian roulette.

The RIU has shown common sense in not laying any charges against the three trainers involved, negating the damage on that side. But they are still almost certain to meet resistance at the Judicial Control Authority hearings when they seek disqualification of the three horses.

While the connections of Dreamy Eagle and Precious Mach may not bother going to the legal expense of fighting their cases, Delightful Christian's Jewels win is a career-defining moment.

Not only was it a $150,000 race but carried group one status, which has enormous benefits for her future broodmare career. It would surprise to see her win not defended.

- NZ Herald

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