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NSW trainer Paul Murray disqualified for three years and six months on cobalt charges
08 Mar 2017 | ThoroughbredNEWS News Desk 

Racing NSW Stewards on Wednesday gave consideration to penalty relative to five charges that licensed trainer Mr Paul Murray was found guilty of, in respect to the Analyst’s finding of cobalt at elevated levels being detected in a stored sample taken from Alma’s Fury following that gelding finishing in second placing in Race 6, the Doncaster Prelude at Royal Randwick on 13 April 2013 and the discovery of a bottle labelled “Concentrated Trace Mineral” at Mr Murray’s stables on 17 June 2014.

Submissions in respect to penalty were made by Mr David O’Neil of counsel on behalf of Mr Murray. After consideration of those submissions the Stewards issued the following penalties against Mr Murray.

1. AR175(h)(i) Did administer or cause to be administered, a prohibited substance to the gelding, Alma’s Fury for the purpose of affecting the performance of that horse in race 6, the Doncaster Prelude, at Royal Randwick racecourse on the 13 April 2013.

Plea: Not Guilty
Finding: Guilty
Penalty: 3 years disqualification (mandatory minimum period – AR196(5))

2. AR175(h)(ii) Did administer or cause to be administered, a prohibited substance which was detected in a sample taken from Alma’s Fury following that gelding running in race 6, the Doncaster Prelude, conducted at Royal Randwick racecourse on the 13 April 2013.
Plea: Not Guilty
Finding: Guilty
Penalty: 2 years disqualification

3. AR178 Did bring Alma’s Fury to Royal Randwick racecourse for the purpose of engaging in race 6, the Doncaster Prelude, on the 13 April 2013 and a prohibited substance was detected in a sample taken from Alma’s Fury following it running in that race.
Plea: Not Guilty
Finding: Guilty
Penalty: 1 year disqualification

4. AR80E(1) Did have in his possession at his Kembla Grange stable premises, when visited by RNSW Officials on the 17 June 2014, substances that had not been registered and/or labelled and/or prescribed and/or dispensed and/or obtained in compliance with relevant State and Commonwealth legislation.
Plea: Not Guilty
Finding: Guilty
Penalty: $1000 fine

5. AR177B(5) Did have in his possession at his Kembla Grange stable premises on the 17 June 2014 a substance labelled “Concentrated Trace Mineral” found to contained elevated levels of cobalt that could give rise to an offence under AR177B if administered to a horse at any time.
Plea: Not Guilty
Finding: Guilty
Penalty: 1 year disqualification

In respect to the penalty under AR175(h)(i), AR196(5) requires that a mandatory minimum penalty of 3 years be imposed for an offence under this rule, unless Stewards find special circumstances exist in accordance with LR108(2). Mr O’Neil submitted on behalf of Mr Murray that LR108(2)(d) should be considered by the Stewards, having regard to the decision of the Racing Appeals Tribunal, constituted by Amarti D, on 22 July 2015 in the matter of Darren Smith. LR108(2) states as follows:

LR108(2) For the purposes of AR196(5), special circumstances means where: (d) the person proves, on the balance of probabilities that, he did not know, ought not to have known and would not have known had he made all reasonable inquiries, that his conduct was in breach of the Rules of Racing. [paragraph added 18.11.13]

The Stewards are of the view that LR108(2)(d) is not available as a relevant special circumstance, as subsection (d) was not introduced to the Local Rules of Racing until 18 November 2013, subsequent to the offending conduct under AR175(h)(i). In any event, the Stewards find that if LR108(2)(d) was available, the Stewards do not consider that it is applicable, as if he did make all reasonable inquiries at the time, including with Racing NSW Officials, he would have been advised the administration of such substance breached the Rules of Racing. Accordingly the Stewards find, having regard to Mr Murray’s clean record for similar offences, he is required to receive the mandatory minimum penalty without reduction.

The cumulative total of the above penalties is a period of 7 years disqualification and a fine of $1,000. However, the Stewards are of the view that there were a number of matters that needed to be considered when determining the total penalty in such a matter (as set out by the Racing Appeals Tribunal in the penalty decision in the appeal of Mr Darren Smith). For the purposes of determining the total penalty, the Stewards have considered the following matters:

a) What message is to be given to this individual to not only ensure that in the future this type of conduct is not repeated, but to also ensure that there is an appropriate penalty imposed to indicate the response of the community to integrity and welfare issues.

b) What general message is required to be sent to the community at large to indicate to those who might be likeminded to engage in such conduct, what the likely consequences are, and, secondly, to indicate to the broader community who are not likely to engage in the type of conduct that, should it be detected, they, whether they be wagerers or people just generally interested in the individual code, will know that it is operating at the highest possible standards.

c) Mr Murray has a clean record in respect of the relevant charges in his time in the racing industry.

d) His not guilty pleas.

e) In considering whether penalties should be served concurrently for the purposes of AR196(a), there is a commonality in respect of a number of the breaches, such that it would be an unfair result if the penalties were cumulative.

In light of the above matters, the Stewards consider that where there is commonality, there should be an element of concurrency. Accordingly, the Stewards determine that the penalties in respect of breaches 1, 2 and 3 should be served entirely concurrently. However, in respect of breach 5, the Stewards, adopting the reasoning of the Racing NSW Appeal Panel on 17 June 2016 in the decision of Sam Kavanagh (at paragraph 10) determine that half of the penalty should be served concurrently and half should be served cumulatively.

The appropriate penalties to be served taking into account all of the above matters to be as follows:

Breaches 1,2 & 3 3 years total
Breach 4 $1,000
Breach 5
1 year (6 months served concurrently with the 3 years for breaches 1, 2 and 3)

The total penalty is therefore a disqualification of 3 years, 6 months and a fine of $1,000.

The Stewards consider that to be a fair total penalty taking into account all of the matters detailed above. The penalty is to commence immediately and to expire on 8 March 2021, on which day Mr Murray may re-apply for his trainers licence. Acting under the provisions of AR196(6)(a), the commencement of the penalty is deferred for seven days, however, Mr Murray may not start a horse in any race during that period.

Mr Murray has been advised of his rights of appeal.

Stewards today also gave consideration to the second placing of Alma’s Fury in Race 6, the Doncaster Prelude at Royal Randwick on the 13 April 2013. Submissions were considered by Managing Owner of Alma’s Fury at the relevant time, Mr T Hartnell, and Mr O’Neil on behalf of Mr Murray. In accordance with the provisions of AR178DD(4), the Stewards disqualified Alma’s Fury from its second placing in the said race and amended the placing’s to read.

1st. Skyrush
2nd. Illo (GER)
3rd. Raspberries
4th. Moriarty (IRE)
5th. Stout Hearted (USA) & Scream Machine
7th. Class Is Class (IRE)
8th. Mahisara

The owners of Alma’s Fury have been advised of their rights of appeal.


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