Ng fined $75,000 for drug 'error'
Nick Pulford, Racing Editor
Trainer Gary Ng Ting-keung was fined $75,000 yesterday at a Hong Kong Jockey Club inquiry over 'a mistaken contamination' which led to the positive test returned by Elephant Dance following his disappointing fourth place at Sha Tin last month.
Chief stipendiary steward John Schreck said the inquiry had found that the positive test for the anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone was 'unlikely to have originated from a deliberate administration'. But he added that Ng was still in breach of Rule 140 (1) 'in that, as the trainer of Elephant Dance, he failed to ensure that a horse being trained by him was free of prohibited substances'. Elephant Dance was disqualified from his fourth place, losing his connections $42,000 in prize-money.
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Jockey Club's director of racing, added: 'All the evidence pointed to a mistaken contamination from a mafoo who had been using phenylbutazone on another horse and then came into contact with Elephant Dance. But it is a trainer's duty to ensure proper precautions are taken to avoid such mistakes. From the Club's point of view, it is reassuring that such cases are picked up, even though only a small amount of a drug was present in this case.'
Phenylbutazone, which is used to help reduce pain and soreness, is not considered to be performance-enhancing. The case - the first involving a Hong Kong-trained horse for almost 2.5 years - came to light after Elephant Dance finished fourth as the $24 favourite in the Harbin Handicap at Sha Tin on October 6. His post-race blood and urine samples revealed the presence of phenylbutazone and its metabolite, although the prohibited substance was not present in the pre-race tests taken the same day.
The central evidence at yesterday's inquiry came from Leung Chi-wah and Chan Fung-ha, two stable assistants for Ng. The stewards heard that Ms Chan had been treating the Ng-trained King Lion with phenylbutazone but was then asked by Leung to assist with the raceday preparation of Elephant Dance. The evidence appeared to point to the substance having been transmitted to Elephant Dance during this procedure, a view supported by Dr Terrence Wan, the Jockey Club's senior racing chemist.
'Dr Wan said the concentration of phenylbutazone he detected together with the estimated time of exposure that the horse had to the substance being rather recent are, in his opinion, consistent with Elephant Dance having been exposed to only a small quantity of phenylbutazone,' Schreck said. 'He also said in his opinion the findings he made were unlikely to have originated from a deliberate administration of phenylbutazone.'
Yesterday's inquiry followed confirmation of the positive test by a French laboratory, which at Ng's request had conducted an independent check of the reserve samples from Elephant Dance.
In other news yesterday, dual champion jockey Douglas Whyte was announced as Hong Kong's representative in the World Super Jockeys' Series to be held in Japan later this month. The South African will face 13 rivals in the prestigious four-race series, with the overseas challenge also featuring Olivier Peslier, representing France, Kieren Fallon (Britain), Mick Kinane (Ireland), Damien Oliver (Australia), Lance O'Sullivan (New Zealand) and Jose Santos and Victor Espinoza (United States).
The home defence will be led by Japanese superstar Yutaka Take, backed by Isao Sugawara, Yoshitomi Shibata, Masayoshi Ebina, Hiroshi Kawachi and Shinji Fujita.
The series will be held at Hanshin racecourse on Saturday, November 30, and Sunday, December 1, and Whyte's participation means he will miss the Sha Tin meeting that weekend.