The Stewards today concluded their inquiry into the analyst’s findings in respect of the post-race blood sample taken from HAVE FUN TOGETHER following that horse finishing in fifth position in the Fu Tai Handicap at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 4 February 2018.
Evidence was today taken from Mr F C Lor, trainer of HAVE FUN TOGETHER, Dr T S M Wan, Head of Racing Laboratory, and Dr P Curl, Executive Manager, Veterinary Regulation. The Stewards received written authority from Mr and Mrs S F Lee, owners of HAVE FUN TOGETHER, for Mr Lor to represent their interests at today’s hearing.
Dr Wan had previously notified that the post-race blood sample taken from HAVE FUN TOGETHER subsequent to the stated race had upon analysis shown the presence of salicylic acid, the concentration of which was determined to exceed the international threshold for that substance in plasma. The Club’s Rules of Racing mirror the international threshold for salicylic acid.
Mr Lor today accepted evidence tendered at the inquiry that salicylic acid above the prescribed threshold is a prohibited substance in accordance with the Rules or Racing and that salicylic acid above the prescribed threshold was in HAVE FUN TOGETHER’s system at the time that the horse raced.
Following extensive investigations subsequent to HAVE FUN TOGETHER racing on 4 February 2018 which included the taking of a significant number of urine and blood samples from horses trained by Mr Lor as well as from a number of supplements and feeds given to horses trained by him, the Stewards accepted that the finding of salicylic acid in HAVE FUN TOGETHER’s post-race blood sample was as a result of the horse having consumed an amount of alfalfa hay shortly before leaving the stable to be presented to race and that such alfalfa hay was found upon analysis to contain higher than normal levels of salicylic acid. It was accepted by the Stewards that the most likely explanation for the alfalfa hay having been found to contain salicylic acid higher than normal levels was as a result of natural plant and seasonal variations.
Following it being established that alfalfa hay fed by Mr Lor to his horses was most likely the source of the analyst’s findings, the Club issued a raceday advice notice to all trainers on 9 March 2018 recommending they do not feed alfalfa hay to declared starters within a certain number of hours prior to racing. Since that time the analyst has reported that there have been no levels of salicylic acid found in racehorses in Hong Kong which have exceeded the established threshold.
Mr Lor was advised that having formed the view that the finding of salicylic acid above the prescribed threshold in the post-race blood sample taken from HAVE FUN TOGETHER on 4 February 2018 was most likely as a result of the alfalfa hay consumed by the horse containing higher than normal levels of salicylic acid, the Stewards were satisfied that he did not administer salicylic acid or cause that substance to be administered to HAVE FUN TOGETHER and that there had not been any failure, omission or neglect on his part which had resulted in the analyst’s findings. Accordingly, the Stewards did not believe that any charge of having breached the Rules of Racing should be issued against him in respect of this matter.
Rule of Racing 138 (1) and (2) provides that a 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, HAVE FUN TOGETHER was disqualified from fifth placing in the Fu Tai Handicap and the placings amended to read No. 12 BEAUT BEAUT, 1st; No. 6 KA YING BRILLIANCE, 2nd; No. 2 SPEEDY KING, 3rd; No. 1 ARIZONA BLIZZARD, 4th; and No. 8 REGENCY DARLING, 5th.
Mr Lor was advised of the owners’ right of appeal against the decision to disqualify HAVE FUN TOGETHER from this race.