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Stewards Inquiry Into Death Of Racehorse Leshem

Racing NSW Stewards today conducted an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of the racehorse Leshem at Armidale Racecourse on 8 July 2020.

Evidence today was taken from Licensed trainer Mr Mark Ostini, the Trainer of Leshem, Licensed Stablehand Mr Mitchell Faulkner, Dr R Bensley, Racing NSW Official Veterinarian / Welfare Officer and Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory Science Manager, Dr A Cawley, via teleconference.

Mr M Ostini pleaded guilty to a charge under AR228 (b) of improper conduct in that on the 8 July 2020, he did authorise Mr M Faulkner to administer an intravenous drip which contained multiple substances from a sachet to the racehorse Leshem, which was engaged to race at Scone 0n 10 July 2020, and during the course of administration had added to it the product Pentosan to the drip, which was contrary to labelled and advertised instruction. Such administration being capable of being detrimental to the welfare of the horse and was administered without taking veterinary advice, resulting in Leshem suffering an anaphylactic reaction during the course of administration and Leshem dying whilst being administered the drip.

Further Mr M Ostini pleaded guilty to a charge under AR252(1), in that on the 8 July 2020 and days subsequent, he did have in his possession the product Arthropen Vet 250, which was not prescribed to him by a veterinarian for use in his stable or any horse in his care, which is a breach of relevant legislation.

Considering all the circumstance relevant to penalty in relation to the charge under AR228 (b), a penalty of 18 months disqualification was applied before allowing mitigation to acknowledge Mr Ostini’s guilty plea and his unblemished disciplinary record established over 20 years, which resulted in that penalty being reduced to a period of 12 months.

Accordingly, Mr Ostini was disqualified for a period to commence immediately and expire 16 September 2021. Mr Ostini was told that he was allowed seven (7) days to make appropriate arrangements for the care and relocation of horses in his care and advised of his rights of appeal.

Considering all the circumstances relevant to penalty in relation to the charge under AR252(1), including Mr Ostini’s guilty plea and his unblemished disciplinary record established over 20 years, Mr Ostini was disqualified for 3 months to be served concurrently with the penalty applied under AR228 (b).

Mr M Faulkner pleaded guilty to a charge under AR228 (b) of improper conduct in that on the 8 July 2020, he did advise trainer Mr M Ostini to apply multiple substances to an intravenous drip which he did administer to Leshem and during such administration he did add the product Pentosan contrary to labelled and advertised instruction to the racehorse Leshem, which was engaged to race at Scone 10 July 2020. Such administration being capable of being detrimental to the welfare of the horse and was administered without taking veterinary advice, resulting in Leshem suffering an anaphylactic reaction during the course of administration and Leshem dying whilst being administered the drip.

Considering all the circumstance relevant to penalty in relation to the charge under AR228 (b), a penalty of 18 months disqualification was applied before allowing mitigation to acknowledge Mr Faulkner’s guilty plea, his personal circumstances and submissions made by him relative to his disciplinary record as a licensee in the Harness racing industry, which resulted in that penalty being reduced to a period of 12 months disqualification to commence immediately and expire 16 September 2021.

Mr Faulkner was told that he was allowed seven (7) days to make appropriate arrangements for the care and relocation of horses that he owned and were housed at the stable of Mr M Ostini and advised of his rights of appeal.

Further, Mr Faulkner pleaded guilty to a charge under AR256(1)(a)(iii), in that he did supply the product Arthropen Vet 250 to licensed trainer Mr M Ostini when that product was prescribed to a harness racing horse, namely Lumos, which was trained by him as a trainer in the Harness racing industry and should not have been provided to be in the possession of licensed trainer Mr M Ostini.

Considering all the circumstances relevant to penalty in relation to the charge under AR256(1)(a)(iii), including Mr Faulkner’s guilty plea, his personal circumstances and submissions made relative to his disciplinary history in the harness racing industry, Mr Faulkner was disqualified for 6 months to be served concurrently with the penalty applied under AR228(b).

NOTE: Mr Ostini and Mr Faulkner have lodged appeals, however, the Appeal Panel has refused their applications for a stay of proceedings.

Relevant Rules
AR 228 Conduct detrimental to the interests of racing
A person must not engage in:
(b) misconduct, improper conduct or unseemly behaviour;

AR252(1) Possession of medication / substances / preparation in breach of legislation.
A person must not have in his or her possession or on his or her premises any medication, substance or preparation which has not been registered, labelled, prescribed, dispensed or obtained in accordance with applicable Commonwealth and state legislation.

AR256 Prohibition on supply and procurement of certain substances/preparations
A person must not
(a) Supply
(iii) a substance or preparation that is not permitted to be in a person’s possession or on a person’s premises in accordance with AR252(1)

- Shane Cullen (Chairman of Stewards H&NWRA)

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