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No penalty for trainer Ron Quinton on cobalt samples
05 Oct 2017 | ThoroughbredNEWS News Desk 

Racing NSW stewards' on Thursday conducted an inquiry in respect to the analysts findings of cobalt above that excepted by AR178C(1)(l) in samples taken from the Ron Quinton trained gallopers Boss Lane on 5 August 2017 and Imanui on 12 August 2017 prior to both horses racing on the respective days.

The stewards concluded that that the feed given to both Boss Lane and Imanui had produced higher than allowed levels of cobalt.

Quinton has escaped any penalty but both Boss Lane and Imanui have been disqualified from their August 5th and 12th races respectively.

Racing NSW stewards' report as follows:

The Stewards today conducted an inquiry into the Analysts’ findings of cobalt at a concentration above the level excepted in AR178C(1)(l) in the pre-race urine samples taken from Boss Lane prior to that gelding finishing 4th in Race 7 – Missile Stakes at Randwick on 5 August 2017 and Imanui prior to that gelding finishing 4th in Race 9 – Benchmark 80 Handicap conducted at Rosehill on 12 August 2017. The following cobalt levels were detected.

Boss Lane Randwick 5 August 2017
Pre-Race
National Measurement Institute (NMI)
24/8/2017
118 μg/L
Pre-Race
Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL)
4/9/2017
112 μg/L
Imanui Rosehill 12 August 2017
Pre-Race
National Measurement Institute (NMI)
5/9/2017
157 μg/L
Pre-Race
Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL)
13/9/2017
152 μg/L

Evidence was today taken from the trainer of Boss Lane and Imanui Mr Ron Quinton who was assisted by solicitor Mr P Beazley. On authority Mr Quinton represented the interests of the owners of both horses. Racing NSW Senior Official Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann, Racing NSW Veterinarian Dr Tania Selig, ARFL Science Manager Dr Adam Cawley and Equine Nutritional Expert Dr Caroline Foote also provided evidence.

The evidence established the following

1. On 3 August 2017 an inspection was conducted of Mr Quinton’s stables to investigate an elevated level of cobalt in three horses trained by Mr Quinton from race meetings conducted on 12, 15 and 22 July 2017, including Boss Lane. The elevated levels were in contrast to previous cobalt levels of horses trained by Mr Quinton that had returned levels consistently close to the population mean up until that point. Mr Quinton was unable to explain the elevation in cobalt levels and advised no practice within his stable had changed nor had he knowingly fed or treated horses with products containing high levels of cobalt.

2. On 5 August 2017 prior to Boss Lane racing, Stewards interviewed Mr Quinton at Randwick racecourse whereby Mr Quinton again stated no practice had changed at his stable and on this basis he elected to start Boss Lane on that day.

3. On 17 August 2017 Racing NSW Chief Steward Marc Van Gestel and Chief Investigator Nathan Hayward conducted a further inspection of Mr Quinton’s stables to advise that the pre-race sample provided by Boss Lane on 5 August 2017, had returned an irregularity to cobalt above that excepted by AR178C(1)(l). Blood samples were taken from a number of horses, along with feed and supplements. These samples were subsequently analysed for cobalt. Mr Quinton’s horses were then ordered not to race until further testing was undertaken.

4. On 21 August 2017, blood samples taken from horses on 17 August 2017 all returned elevated levels of cobalt, although below the threshold level of 25μg/L excepted by AR178C(1)(l).

5. On 21 August 2017 Racing NSW Stewards received advice from NMI that a feed sample of Barastoc Phar Lap taken from Mr Quinton’s stable on 17 August 2017 was found to contain a level of cobalt of 21mg/kg, in excess of 40 times of that listed on the product label. Subsequent analysis by an additional laboratory Symbio Laboratories found the sample contained cobalt at a level of 25.8mg/kg.

6. Mr Quinton had fed Phar Lap to all but 4 horses in his stable during the relevant periods. These four horses were sampled and found to have levels of cobalt in accordance with the population mean. In contrast 8 horses that were fed Phar Lap were found to contain elevated levels of cobalt in out of competition samples and in some cases were over the level of 100ug/L excepted by AR178C(1)(l).

7. Mr Quinton also provided evidence of having fed Phar Lap for a period of in excess of 10 years.

8. On Wednesday 23 August 2017 horses in Mr Quinton’s stables were taken off Phar Lap feed and replaced with another commercially available feed. On 1 September 2017 samples taken from a number of Mr Quinton’s horses, previously fed Phar Lap and that had been found to have elevated levels of cobalt, returned lower cobalt levels. On 6 September further urine samples taken from those horses returned cobalt levels close to the population mean resulting in Mr Quinton’s horses being permitted to return to racing.

9. During the period 31 August 2017 to 13 September 2017 Racing NSW, with the approval of the Racing NSW Animal Care and Ethics Committee, conducted a feed trial whereby 4 horses were fed Phar Lap consistent with the feeding regime of Mr Quinton.

10. The Phar Lap feed used for the trial was found, through analysis conducted by NMI and Symbio Laboratories, to contain levels of cobalt as high as 11mg/kg (20 times higher than stated on the manufacturers label) but lower than the feed samples obtained from Mr Quinton’s stable which returned a levels as high as 25.8mg/kg. The feed trial established once horses commenced to ingest the Phar Lap feed their cobalt levels increased significantly and returned to mean population levels soon after being taken off the Phar Lap feed.

11. Mr Quinton’s veterinary and treatment records did not identify any cobalt containing product which would have caused or contributed to the elevated cobalt levels and the inspections conducted on 3 August 2017 and 17 August 2017 also did not identify any such product.

12. Dr Suann and Dr Selig advised that Boss Lane and Imanui could have been subjected to in excess of 75mg of cobalt per day. Dr Foote provided evidence that the usual total daily intake of cobalt in a thoroughbred horse was up to 6 to 7mg per day.

13. Inquiries made with Barrastoc the manufacturer of Phar Lap failed to assist the inquiry or reveal the source of the elevated cobalt levels in the March and May 2017 feed batches.

Mr Quinton pleaded guilty to two charges under AR178 of having presented Boss Lane and Imanui to race on 5 August 2017 and 12 August 2017 respectively, when pre-race urine samples taken from the geldings were found upon analysis to contain cobalt above that excepted by AR178C(1)(1)

Having regard to the evidence detailed above, the Stewards accepted the evidence of Dr Suann and Dr Selig that they were comfortably satisfied that the cause of the levels of cobalt in Boss Lane and Imanui were due to the prolonged ingestion of the Phar Lap feed which contained levels of cobalt up to 50 times higher than the manufacturer’s label advised, which resulted in Boss Lane and Imanui ingesting cobalt well in excess of the average daily intake of cobalt for a thoroughbred horse.

Under the powers of AR177, Boss Lane was disqualified from its 4th placing in Race 7 – Missile Stakes conducted at Randwick on the 5 August 2017 and the placing’s were amended as follows:
1st Invincible Gem
2nd Le Romain
3rd The Monstar
4th Harper’s Choice
5th Tycoon Tara

Under the powers of AR177, Imanui was disqualified from its 4th placing in the Benchmark 80 Handicap conducted at Rosehill racecourse on the 12 August 2017 and the placing’s were amended as follows:
1st Special Missile
2nd Mapmaker
3rd Nat King Ku
4th Virgilio
5th Gold Horizon
Relevant Rules

AR178 - Subject to AR 178G, when any horse that has been brought to a racecourse for the purpose of engaging in a race and a prohibited substance is detected in any sample taken from it prior to or following its running in any race, the trainer and any other person who was in charge of such horse at any relevant time may be penalised.

AR 178C. (1) The following prohibited substances when present at or below the concentrations respectively set out are excepted from the provisions of AR 178B and
AR 178H:-
(l) Cobalt at a mass concentration of 100 micrograms per litre in urine or 25 micrograms per litre in plasma.
AR 177. Subject to AR 177C, any horse that has been brought to a racecourse and a prohibited substance is detected in any sample taken from it prior to or following its running in any race must be disqualified from any race in which it started on that day.

Stewards: M F Van Gestel (Chairman)
P C Dingwall
R W Livingstone

 
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