Wex­ford train­ing part­ners in the spotlight

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - DENNIS RYAN Rac­ing colum­nist

Last Tues­day the news broke that a horse trained by Wex­ford Sta­bles part­ners Lance O’Sul­li­van and An­drew Scott had re­turned a pos­i­tive swab to cobalt.

In a shock de­vel­op­ment for this coun­try’s rac­ing in­dus­try, New Zealand was added to the list of ju­ris­dic­tions that have en­coun­tered the trace el­e­ment, whose prop­er­ties in­clude the abil­ity to in­crease a horse’s red blood cells and thus en­hance its oxy­gen-car­ry­ing abil­ity.

Cobalt, which first came to light af­ter the de­tec­tion of its il­licit use in Amer­i­can har­ness rac­ing, has been a head­line grab­ber across the Tas­man for more than a year.

Ini­tially the har­ness rac­ing code was in­volved, while more re­cently thor­ough­bred train­ers in four Aus­tralian states have been im­pli­cated, with sev­eral of them charged and dis­qual­i­fied.

New Zealand’s first cobalt pos­i­tive – which es­sen­tially in­volves ex­ceed­ing the le­gal level of 200mg per litre of urine col­lected in a stan­dard post-race pro­ce­dure – con­cerned the O’Sul­li­van-Scott­trained Quin­tas­tics af­ter its win at Mata­mata on March 11.

Two other sta­ble mem­bers, Suf­fire and New Zealand Derby placeget­ter Sound Propo­si­tion, have sub­se­quently re­turned tests in ex­cess of the 200mg thresh­old, while one other sta­ble mem­ber un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­turned a level be­low the thresh­old.

‘‘ We’re sur­prised – I think that’s the best way to put it,’’ O’Sul­li­van said when the Quin­tas­tics find­ing was an­nounced last Tues­day by the Rac­ing In­tegrity Unit (RIU).

‘‘We’re at a loss to ex­plain the high read­ing and are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to as­sist the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’’

Ear­lier this week RIU chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike God­ber told the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing, also point­ing out that no charges had been laid with re­gard to the posi- tive tests and the sta­ble was able to con­tinue to op­er­ate fully.

While some in­ves­ti­ga­tions across the Tas­man have in­volved months of back­ground work – and in the case of Mel­bourne trainer Peter Moody charges have still not been forth­com­ing – God­ber does not an­tic­i­pate such a lengthy process.

‘‘With­out know­ing ex­actly how long the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will take, I ex­pect that a time frame of six to eight weeks is likely be­fore the RIU reaches the stage of de­cid­ing whether charges are laid,’’ he said.

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