The Stewards today concluded their inquiry into the analyst’s findings in respect of the post-race urine sample taken from NASHASHUK after that horse was successful in the Ninepin Group Handicap at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday, 21 June 2017.
Evidence was today taken from Mr J Size, the Trainer of NASHASHUK and who represented the interests of the Owners of NASHASHUK, Dr T S M Wan, Head of Racing Laboratory, and Dr P Curl, Executive Manager, Veterinary Regulation. Evidence was also taken from a Stables Assistant allocated to Mr Size’s stable and who attended to NASHASHUK on the day on which it raced.
Dr Wan had previously advised that the pre-race urine sample taken from NASHASHUK on the morning of the race in question did not contain etofenamate and flufenamic acid, however, the post-race urine sample taken from the horse was found to contain both substances.
Dr Curl provided evidence to the inquiry that etofenamate and its metabolite flufenamic acid are capable of acting on a number of systems of a horse and as such are prohibited substances in accordance with the Rules of Racing of The Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Mr Size accepted that etofenamate and its metabolite flufenamic acid are prohibited substances in accordance with the Rules of Racing and that the urine sample taken from NASHASHUK after the race in question showed the presence of those substances and that established protocols had been observed in respect of the taking of the sample.
Rule of Racing 138 (1) and (2) provides that any horse shall be free of any prohibited substance on the day on which it has been declared to race (i.e. race day), until such time as the Stewards release such horse after it has raced and that in the event of a sample taken from any horse during this period being reported as positive to a prohibited substance such horse shall, in the case of a post-race sample, be disqualified for such race. Accordingly, NASHASHUK was disqualified from the Ninepin Group Handicap and the placings amended to No. 8 FOX SUNTER, 1st; No. 5 PHANTOM FALCON, 2nd; No. 2 TRAVEL SUCCESSOR, 3rd; No. 9, GOLDEN DEER, 4th; and No. 7 LEOWL, 5th. Mr Size was advised of the owners’ right of appeal against the decision to disqualify NASHASHUK from this race.
When undertaking a preliminary investigation into this matter following the Stewards initially having been made aware of the analyst’s findings, it was established that etofenamate and flufenamic acid are not contained in any registered veterinary products in Hong Kong but that etofenamate is a constituent of a number of registered human preparations. The investigation found that the Stables Assistant, who was attending to NASHASHUK at the relevant time, used a registered human preparation which contained etofenamate, such substance being known to be metabolized to flufenamic acid. Analysis of a sample of the human preparation by the Club’s Racing Laboratory confirmed that the preparation contained etofenamate. The Stables Assistant informed the inquiry that he had applied the relevant medication in the days prior to NASHASHUK competing in its race so as to treat an ongoing soreness condition.
The Stables Assistant subsequently agreed to provide a sample of his urine for the purposes of analysis to establish whether the sample contained etofenamate and flufenamic acid. It was subsequently confirmed by the Club’s Racing Laboratory that the urine sample did contain etofenamate and flufenamic acid.
Having considered all the evidence before them, the Stewards formed the opinion that the findings of etofenamate and flufenamic acid in the post-race urine sample taken from NASHASHUK on 21 June 2017 were as a result of inadvertent contamination caused by the Stables Assistant who attended to the horse on that day. A report will be forwarded to the Club’s Stables Management Department regarding the Stables Assistant’s role in the findings of etofenamate and flufenamic acid in the urine sample taken from NASHASHUK and which ultimately led to the horse’s disqualification from the stated race.
Rule of Racing 140 (2) provides that in the event of a sample taken from a horse during the specified period being found positive to any prohibited substance, the trainer of such horse bears the onus of proving that he did not administer or cause to be administered the prohibited substance detected, and that he had taken all proper precautions to prevent the administration of the prohibited substance.
Mr Size was advised that as the Stewards had formed the opinion that the findings of etofenamate and flufenamic acid in the urine sample taken from NASHASHUK on 21 June 2017 were as a result of inadvertent contamination caused by the Stables Assistant who attended the horse at the relevant time, they were satisfied that he did not administer or cause to be administered etofenamate and flufenamic acid to NASHASHUK. Having regard to the evidence provided to the inquiry by Club Officials who conducted the preliminary investigation that there was signage informing of steps to be taken to prevent inadvertent contamination in two common areas of Mr Size’s stable at the relevant time and the ongoing education of stables staff in respect of measures to be taken to avoid cross-contamination between humans and horses, the Stewards were of the opinion that the findings of etofenamate and flufenamic acid in the urine sample taken from NASHASHUK had not resulted from any failure, omission or neglect on Mr Size’s part and therefore, in the circumstances of this case, the Stewards were satisfied that Mr Size had discharged his responsibility under the Rules of Racing in respect of the analyst’s findings. Accordingly, no further action was taken against Mr Size in respect of this matter.