Club probes Palace positive test
The Jockey Club confirmed yesterday it is investigating a positive urine sample returned last Saturday from the David Hayes-trained winner Mughal Palace as the horse's owner declared that he should not lose the prize money.
The official news came a day after it was reported that Mughal Palace was positive to the drug circulon.
It also came as Hayes, back in Australia, was involved in making funeral arrangements for his legendary father Colin Hayes, who died at home at Lindsay Park, South Australia, yesterday morning.
In related news, the Jockey Club confirmed it was working actively with the Hong Kong Police following a report made by trainer Patrick Biancone into the doping of his two horses, Whytellyou and Rickfield.
If a confirmatory sample of urine from Mughal Palace comes back positive, then the horse will be disqualified - and a vital winner lost for title-chasing jockey Basil Marcus and champion trainer Hayes.
Ironically, the race would go to Ricky P. F. Yiu, who currently trails Hayes by four winners, thus cutting the deficit to just two.
Owner Syed Pervez Hussain stands to lose $486,210, less percentages, and he isn't happy.
'I have to ask why owners, who put millions into racing, be penalised in these circumstances when they clearly have not committed any offence. They should not take the prize money from the owner,' said Hussain, who is one of Asia's biggest owner-breeders with over 200 horses in his native Pakistan.
Hussain's point is that the generic drug isoxsuprine is prescribed by the Jockey Club's vets with a seven-day cut-off period before a horse races. It is accepted that Hayes stopped using circulon - a trade name - 11 days before Saturday's race.
But the Hong Kong Rules of Racing are inflexible and if the confirmatory sample is positive, Mughal Palace will be disqualified.
Director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said: 'It will be a thorough investigation. There is a seven-day threshold but there are also limitations on the amount of circulon used per application. It must he checked - if it is possible - that the amounts used did not exceed those permitted otherwise the trainer is clearly at fault. Usage over the prescribed amounts would affect the threshold period.' Engelbrecht-Bresges met officers of the Serious Crimes Bureau yesterday along with Security Department personnel as the Hong Kong Police began their investigation into the double doping.
Biancone had made the report to Sha Tin police station on Thursday night following the official announcement that the archaic anabolic steroid, boldenone, had been found in urine from unplaced griffin Rickfield, who ran last Saturday.
Engelbrecht-Bresges said: 'We will willingly co-operate with any law enforcement agency and everything will be made available to the Hong Kong Police.' Biancone was surrounded by the media at Sha Tin yesterday morning but was completely unruffled by the previous night's dramatic events.
'I did what I had to do and I thought long and hard before I did it. I have my career and my family to think about,' said the French trainer.
The substance did not show up in a pre-race test for Rickfield because the horse could not urinate - leading to a change in procedures.
Blood samples have been taken from horses unable to urinate but these are not as reliable. Now, if a horse pre-race has not urinated, a post-race sample will be taken - not matter how long it takes.
TT & DT - Pages 16 & 17