Hamilton horseman Todd Mitchell has been disqualified for one year after three of his horses returned a level of carbon dioxide above that laid down in the rules of harness racing.

Mitchell admitted the charges relating to Covert Action at Cambridge on April 28, Skip Bo at Alexandra Park on June 17, and Anvils Delight at Alexandra Park on July 1. He was the trainer of Covert Action and Skip Bo and in charge of Anvils Delight.

A horse shall be presented to race with a carbon dioxide level at or below 35 mill moles per litre of plasma. Covert Action was 36.4, Skip Bo, 36.5 and Anvils Delight, 36.4. Levels over 35 constitute a prohibited substance.

Mitchell said his stable feeding regime included calcium propionate, which elevates TCO2 levels. It is not a prohibited substance but is caught by the provisions of the rules if administered to a horse and this results in a level above 35.


Dr H M Williamson, a retired veterinarian, gave evidence that the high readings in the three horses could be attributed to a state known as respiratory acidosis.

Mitchell, 40, appeared on a similar charge in 2010 when he was fined $800. His disqualification will also bar him from driving in races or training thoroughbreds.

Brian Scott and Adrian Dooley, the Judicial Control Authority representatives who heard the charges, found Mitchell to be reckless in the extreme, considering he had previously been charged over a high carbon dioxide level in a horse.

They disqualified him for a year from April 19. He was also ordered to pay JCA costs of $2150.

Covert Action who finished third, Skip Bo (second) and Anvils Delight (second) were all disqualified.