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Licensed Trainer John Sprague Disqualified For 12 Months

Racing NSW Stewards today conducted an inquiry into the Analysts’ findings of cobalt at a concentration above the level excepted in AR178C(1) in a pre-race urine sample taken from Saint Denis prior to the gelding being placed third in Race 3 - Maiden Handicap conducted at Tuncurry Racecourse on 29 October 2017.

Cobalt was certified at the following levels:-

National Measurement Institute 30/11/2017 185 ug/L
Racing Analytical Services Limited 15/12/2017 177 ug/L

Evidence was today taken from trainer of Saint Denis, John Sprague, who also represented the interests of the owners, Racing NSW Official Veterinarian Dr Tania Selig and ARFL Science Manager Dr Adam Cawley.

Mr Sprague was found guilty of a charge under AR178 of having brought Saint Denis to Tuncurry Racecourse for the purposes of the gelding engaging in a race when a prohibited substance was detected in a pre-race sample.

Mr Sprague was disqualified from racing for a period of 12 months to commence immediately and to expire on 3 January 2019 on which day he may re-apply for a licence. In considering penalty, Stewards took into account Mr Sprague’s unblemished record in 25 years of training and 40 years’ involvement in the industry. Under the provisions of AR196(6)(a) the commencement of the penalty was deferred for seven days, however, Mr Sprague may not start a horse in any race during that period.

Under the powers of AR177, Saint Denis was disqualified from its 3rd placing in Race 3, the Maiden Handicap conducted at Tuncurry on 29 October 2017 and the placings were amended as follows:-

1st - Count Appeal
2nd - Justaway (NZ)
3rd - Golden Words
4th - The Iceman
5th - If By Chance (NZ)

Mr Sprague and the owners of Saint Denis were advised of their rights of appeal.

Relevant Rules
AR178 - Subject to AR 178G, when any horse that has been brought to a racecourse for the purpose of engaging in a race and a prohibited substance is detected in any sample taken from it prior to or following its running in any race, the trainer and any other person who was in charge of such horse at any relevant time may be penalised.

AR 178C. (1) The following prohibited substances when present at or below the concentrations respectively set out are excepted from the provisions of AR 178B and
AR 178H:-

(l) Cobalt at a mass concentration of 100 micrograms per litre in urine or 25 micrograms per litre in plasma.

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