Jockey Club to review use of feed linked to positive arsenic swab
Product linked to trainer David Hall saw two of his horses, Berlinski and Hit A Home Run, were disqualified
Jockey Club officials will meet tomorrow to review the use of a registered horse feed product found to have caused a spate of positive arsenic swabs and yesterday's subsequent disqualification of David Hall-trained sprinter Berlinski from a race in May.
Although lethal, arsenic is a naturally occurring substance and can be used in smaller dosages as a tonic on horses to promote well-being.
Testing by the Jockey Club's lab narrowed the cause of the positives to a feed product or use of the product in conjunction with a feed supplement used by Hall and fellow trainer Peter Ho Leung.
Stewards cleared Hall at a hearing yesterday, but disqualified both of his runners that had tested positive to arsenic in post-race analysis, before indicating the club was continuing its review into the tainted feed.
When feed contaminated with the cattle-fattening drug zilpaterol was found to be the cause of positive swabs late last season, the equine nutrition company responsible paid compensative prize money to the connections of disqualified runners.
A representative from the feed company involved in the arsenic positives will visit Hong Kong later this week, but on Wednesday the Jockey Club's head of racing Bill Nader will meet other officials to discuss the findings.
"We will discuss it internally to decide what the recommendations should be," he said. "While I don't think anybody is surprised at the result of the inquiry, we wanted the inquiry to come to a close first before we went ahead. We can now weigh it up and look at what our options are."
Under the rules of racing, Rule 140 (2) stipulates a trainer must take all precautions to prevent the administration of a prohibited substance, but given feed supplements are provided by the club, stewards found Hall "had no case to answer" for the post-race positive tests and other pre-race tests that were positive.
Still, Rules 138 (1) and (2) state a horse shall be free from any prohibited substance on race day and as such, Berlinski was one of two Hall runners disqualified.
Berlinksi was disqualified from a Class Four handicap on May 17 and stablemate Hit A Home Run, who finished second in a Class Five a week earlier, was also stripped of prize money.
As a result of the findings, jockeys' championship leader Zac Purton gained an extra winner when Star Of Bond was promoted in place of Berlinski, moving the Australian to 107 wins.