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Non Race Day Inquiry - RIU v M G C Roberts- Decision Dated 15 November 2012

Created on 20 November 2012

Information Number:
A5505 and A5507
Mr R Scott- Racecourse Investigator
Repondent(s)/Other parties:
Mr M G C Roberts - Licensed Owner/Trainer
Mr K G Hales (Chairman)
Mr J Phelan (Committee Member)
Held at: Addington Raceway, Christchurch
On: Friday 2nd November 2012 at 4.15pm
Robin Scott
Racing Investigator
AND Matthew George Chilton Roberts
Owner/Trainer Greyhound Racing New Zealand
308 Horndon Street, Darfield, Canterbury
CHARGE: Breach of Rule 87.1 and 87.3
THAT on the 14th September 2012, being the part owner and trainer of a greyhound, namely, “ELKI” nominated to compete in a race, namely Race 13, Culverden Hotel Spring C` race over 295 metres, at the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club, race meeting, held at Addington Raceway, Christchurch, did fail to produce the said greyhound, “ELKI” free of any prohibited substance, namely morphine. THAT is in breach of Rule 87.1 and 87.3 of the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing and is therefore liable to the penalty or penalties which may be imposed in accordance with Rule 89.1
REQUEST FOR RULING: Pursuant to Rule 87.4
THAT the greyhound “ELKI” was brought to the Christchurch Greyhound Racecourse at Addington and started in the Culverden Hotel Spring C1 race at the meeting of that Club on Friday the 14th September 2012 AND THAT such greyhound had had administered to it a prohibited substance, namely morphine, capable of affecting its speed, stamina, courage or conduct AND THAT by virtue thereof under the provisions of Rule 87.4 of the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing the said greyhound shall be disqualified from the said race.
Mr Matthew George Chilton Roberts (“the respondent”) holds an Open Trainers Licence issued under the Greyhound New Zealand Rules of Racing. He is 21 years of age and has been licenced for some 3 years.
Mr Roberts appears before this Judicial Committee today charged with breaching Rule 87.1 and 87.3 and the greyhound involved, “ELKI”, is subject to the penalty in Rule 87.4 as per Information Number A5505 and the attached Request for Ruling, Information A5507.
The basic facts are not in dispute and can be summarized as follows:
1. Mr ROBERTS has his training establishment at 586 Telegraph Road, Burnham on his parent’s property.
He part owns and trains the registered Greyhound “ELKI”. The co- owners of “ELKI” is the Perfect Storm Syndicate.
2. “ELKI” was correctly nominated for race 13, the Culverden Hotel Sprint, a C1 race over 295 metres at Addington Raceway, Christchurch, on Friday the 14 September 2012.
3. “ELKI” won the event and a stake of $654.00 which has been paid out.
4. “ELKI” was selected to be post race swabbed.
5. On 28 September 2012 the Official Racing Analysts, Ms Ingrid Martin and Dr. Rob Howitt, reported morphine was detected from the urine sample, swab card 69582.
6. As a result Mr Roberts was interviewed on the 2 October 2012.
7. When advised of the positive swab for “ELKI” for morphine it became almost immediately clear that this positive swab probably came about by the Greyhound “ELKI” eating bread which contained poppy seeds.
8. Some Greyhound trainers have an arrangement with a Local Baker in Christchurch, where they purchase old stocks of bread for greyhound food. An examination of their bread supply located a loaf of grain bread. The label read that the loaf contained poppy seeds.
9. Mr Roberts stated that he fed a variety of breads to his racing dogs about 4 times a week. He stated that “ELKI” would have been given 3-4 slices of the bread the night before the race on the 14. The bread is selected at random.
The Investigation revealed that it was highly likely that it was poppy seed bread that had been fed to “ELKI”.
10. Three slices of the seed bread were randomly selected and forwarded for analysis to the Racing Laboratory on the 3 October 2012.
Dr. Rob Howitt, the Official Racing Analyst reported on the 11 October 2012, that the poppy seeds in this bread were positive for Morphine.
11. Mr Roberts indicated that he was responsible for what had happened and no one
else was involved. He as the trainer took full responsibility. He did not wish
the reserve sample to be analysed.
12. Mr Roberts has a TAB betting account. He placed a $2300.00 Fixed Odds bet on his dog, $1900 was from a winning bet the day before, $100 was on
behalf of a friend and $300 was on behalf of the other owner. Mr Roberts has a
pattern for large bets on his TAB account.
13. Mr Roberts co-operated with the RIU Investigators during this inquiry.
Mr Roberts presented the following written submissions:
On the 2 October 2012 Mr Robin Scott and Ms Kylie Williams, Racing Integrity Unit Racing Inspectors, came to my training facilities on my parents’ property. They informed me that “ELKI” had returned a positive swab with traces of Morphine from the race meeting at Addington on the 14 September 2012. After some discussion, and being aware of previous positive swabs, we came to the conclusion that “ELKI” must have inadvertently been fed bread containing poppy seeds. My dogs’ feeds, and those of my parents, are all made up together. Either one of my parents could have made up the feeds that night as I was at the races. We were aware of the poppy seed bread but usually it was fed to the non-race dogs. We have established that it must have been in the feeds on the night of 13 September, the night before the positive swab as the dog in the kennel next to “ELKI” (“Callaghan”) raced, and was swabbed on the 13 September. This swab was clear. It is highly probable that “Callaghan” would have been fed the same bread, but his swab was taken before he was fed on the particular evening.
Thursday 13 September was an especially busy day. We had 11 dogs racing at Addington. My parents were going the next day, and organising that, as well Craig was embroiled in the industrial action surrounding the Southern Clubs. With so many distractions, the wrong bread must have been mistakenly fed. The lab testing of the bread concludes this to be the source.
I accept that “ELKI” had traces of morphine in her system, I deny that I administered it. I refute that this trace of morphine could have had any effect on the dog’s performance. As training is my only source of income, that I tried to supplement my income by betting. I was confident that “ELKI” would win, as the box draw suited her and the field wasn’t strong. I placed a bet of $2,300.00 on “ELKI” on fixed odds. This bet included an amount for other partners. My personal bet was for $1,900.00 which I had won the night before, and placed in my TAB account with the intention of betting on “ELKI” on fixed odds. I gave the RIU access to my TAB account. Since this incident, we have stopped using this type of bread completely and they will see that a bet like this is not uncommon. Therefore I see no reason to make a connection with the bet and the positive swab. Please also note “ELKI’s” subsequent wins and clear swabs.”
The penalty provisions for a breach of Rules 87.1, 87.3 are contained in Rule 89.1 as follows:
89.1 states: “Any person found guilty of an offence under these Rules shall be liable to, in the sole and absolute discretion of the Board or the Stewards”:
a. A fine not exceeding $10,000.00 for any one (1) offence; and/or
b. Suspension; and or
c. Disqualification; and/or
d. Warning Off.
87.4 states: “Any greyhound which competes in a race and is found to be the recipient of a prohibited substance shall be disqualified from that race”:
I refer the Committee to the penalty imposed in a previous case, RIU v McA, (3 October 2011) where Mr McA received a $2,000 fine.
This is an identical situation to that of McA. Bread containing poppy seed was fed to a greyhound dog the night before racing.
The mitigating factors for Mr Roberts are that he has immediately admitted his liability and has co-operated throughout the investigation. He has had this matter heard at the earliest opportunity and has entered a Guilty plea at the first available opportunity.
He has been involved in the greyhound industry for about 3 years and has not previously offended.
The aggravating feature is that Mr Roberts should have been aware of poppy seeds producing positive swabs for Morphine through his association in the industry.
When using bread and not checking the type being used amounts to carelessness or negligence.
The RIU believe this matter can be dealt with by way of a monetary penalty but the penalty should be the same as that for McA.
We would request an order under Rule 87.4 that “ELKI” be disqualified from the race.
The RIU make no application for costs.
The Committee has carefully considered all of the evidence and submissions as presented. This Committee is satisfied that there was no intent by Mr Roberts to gain an advantage through the administration of a prohibited substance, and accept that the dog “ELKI” was mistakenly fed bread containing poppy seeds. We accept that Mr Roberts did not make up the dog’s feed that evening, but as he is the trainer and person in charge of the dog in question, he is responsible for the consequences of the feed that was given to it.
Mr Roberts admitted that he was aware of poppy seeds producing positive swabs for morphine as this information is well published within the greyhound racing industry. He was negligent to the extent that he did not ensure that clear instructions were given with regard to the feed to be given to his dog just prior to racing. He was negligent, albeit, at the lower end of the scale.
In setting penalty, the Committee is mindful that the integrity of greyhound racing is paramount. All licenced holders must be treated on equal terms, and any penalty must contain a deterrent element.
Mr Scott submitted that the penalty to be imposed for this offence should be consistent with that handed down to licensed greyhound trainer “McA” because of the striking similarity in the fact situation. The only significant difference in the fact situation is that in the “McA” case, there was no evidence of heavy betting on the dog in question. However, having said that, we treat the fact that Mr Roberts placed a heavy bet on the dog as a factor which is neither an aggravating or mitigating factor.
Thus, in the interests of consistency, we consider that a fine of $2,000 should be imposed and Mr Roberts is fined accordingly.
In accordance with Rule 87.4 as there is clear evidence that “ELKI” competed in a race, and was found to be the recipient of a prohibited substance, “ELKI” is accordingly disqualified from the Culverden Hotel Sprint C1 Race held at the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club meeting on 14 September 2012.
All stake moneys shall be refunded to Greyhound Racing New Zealand for payment in accordance with the placings which are subsequently amended.
Costs in the sum of $350 are awarded in favour of the Judicial Control Authority


15 November 2012

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