Wexford training partners in the spotlight
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.