Hong Kong Mile

Allan fires off another broadside at Club

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 12:00am

Three-time Hong Kong champion trainer Ivan Allan has delivered another salvo at the Jockey Club for refusing an entry for Olympic Express - describing its response as 'smoke and mirrors'.

'Sorry, but I refer back to the 'shampoogate' incident when Alex Wong Siu-tan was wrongly fined $150,000 and, when faced with a similar situation, I had to raise hell to expose that the veterinary department was the culprit,' Allan said yesterday.

'I respect the director of racing's protection of his staff on all delicate matters but vet Brian Stewart scanned Olympic Express's tendon and gave a very negative report, including that the injury should not be subjected to even a trial. Olympic Express won the trial impressively and did an excellent gallop a week later.

'Brian Stewart then performed another scan which revealed no deterioration, however, he refused to pass Olympic Express. Was he afraid that Olympic Express would run well and expose his inability to decipher an electronic scan? Blow the smoke and remove the mirrors and this is the stark truth.'

Allan said Hong Kong racing was 'living in the dark' on veterinary matters. 'In major racing jurisdictions, veterinary surgeons work for trainers. It is a trainer's call whether he runs a horse.'

On Tuesday evening, the Jockey Club released a statement in response to Allan's first tirade, detailing the injury history of four-time Group One winner Olympic Express, who has not raced since being eased out of the Hong Kong Mile in December.

Signed by executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the release stated that 'the veterinary history of Olympic Express clearly establishes the horse has problems with the tendons of both front legs'.

It stated Olympic Express' tendons were 'grossly swollen' but not painful when examined in April and an ultrasound scan was performed 'to assess the quality of healing and structural integrity of the tendons'.

That scan 'revealed that the quality of healing was poor with a very disorganised tendon repair fibre pattern' and 'virtually no healthy fibres' in the damaged area.

After Olympic Express trialed on May 4, the club said the condition of the tendons had 'not changed significantly' but there was 'some heat and pain in the left front tendon' and Dr Stewart's opinion was that the risk of the horse 'going wrong in a race must be considered higher than just prior to it racing at Sha Tin in December, 2003'.

Allan also disputed the club's contention that comparison with Elegant Fashion's hoof injury before the QE II Cup was incorrect as she had galloped in the lead-up to that race.

'Her injury occurred a few days prior to the race and I personally witnessed that she was still slightly lame in the mornings and definitely did not gallop - she had to be nursed,' he recalled.

'After surgery her hoof was fitted with the equivalent of a plaster cast which provided fragile protection. If the shoe had come out during the race, there would have been a serious problem.

'Yet Dr Stewart passed her to race and she was beaten by a horse she had finished in front of every time they met. Worse still, records will confirm that she was very sore and lame for a week after the race. It was obvious Elegant Fashion did not perform to her true ability.'