Officials grill mafoo over Shahjee drug case

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am


There were further developments over the weekend in the Shahjee ketamine positive case, with Jockey Club officials understood to have questioned the horse's handler and taken samples from him.

The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained Shahjee was the medium of a heavy betting move on Derby Day before winning at Sha Tin, but was found last week to have returned positive blood and urine tests to ketamine and its metabolites, norketamine and dehydronorketamine.

The stewards' inquiry into the Shahjee matter was adjourned, pending independent B sample testing of the horse's blood and urine, but sources say Jockey Club stewards and laboratory officials visited the mafoo's home over the weekend, as well as revisiting Yiu's stables.

'Further samples were taken from Shahjee and one other horse trained by Ricky Yiu, and we have spoken to Yiu and other members of his stable staff,' said chief steward Kim Kelly, who would not elaborate on the direction the investigation is taking. However, Jockey Club sources revealed the second horse in the case, from which blood and urine samples have been taken to be tested, is under the care of the same mafoo.

Kelly did say that the mafoo involved 'has provided a number of samples to the stewards for analysis', but would not give any details on what kind of samples were taken from the mafoo or whether hair samples were among the evidence gathered for testing.

It is believed the police have been made aware of the case, but it is a Jockey Club matter at this stage.

Ketamine is used a horse anaesthetic by veterinarians but has hit the headlines more often in recent times as a cheap recreational drug in wide use in Hong Kong.

In the past two years, two jockeys have tested positive for ketamine in random race-day samples, Marco Chui Kwan-lai and Kevin Leung Ka-wai.

Chui has tested positive twice and was refused relicensing in February after serving a one year suspension for his second offence, while Leung tested positive in September and was given a six-month ban. Last Thursday, he was referred to a show cause hearing before the Licensing Committee after hair samples provided to the club during his six months out were not satisfactory and returned a further positive test to an unnamed prohibited substance.