Waller Up Front Following Lasix Positive

by Rob Burnet, Thoroughbrednews.com.au

As was widely reported last week, Sydney’s leading trainer Chris Waller was fined A$30,000 by a Racing NSW stewards’ panel, chaired by chief steward Ray Murrihy, over a positive sample of the prohibited substance furosemide. The sample was taken from Junoob (GB) (Haafhd {GB}) after the gelding’s win in the G1 The Metropolitan H. at Randwick racecourse Oct. 4. 

The positive test for the diuretic, better known as Lasix, made public the use of the product in horses in training in Waller’s stable, an aid that was not generally known by the racing public. Lasix is generally understood by the Australian racing public to be a drug most commonly used on race day in the U.S., but it is also used–legally–in Australia in horses in training, usually when doing fast work, as a preventative drug and has been for some time. 

Waller, who pleaded guilty to the charge and will not appeal, has been up-front about the use of Lasix in his stable after the stewards’ inquiry last Thursday. 

“I believe it helps with the longevity of horse’s career,” he said. “It reduces the frequency of bleeding and reduces the chances of a horse bleeding. Every time they bleed they get closer to a major bleed.” 

Junoob was tested to be at 440ng/mL of Frusemide, in excess of the Australian 50ng/mL threshold. Any trace of the drug above the threshold must be out of the horse’s system by race day, and it was here that Waller’s stable went afoul of the rules. 

The stewards’ report said that they were satisfied from the scientific evidence that the administration of Furosemide to Junoob most likely occurred at or around 3:30 a.m. the morning of the race. They found that the administration of furosemide was inadvertent on the part of Waller’s experienced stable foreperson, Analise Trollope, whilst conducting scheduled administrations of the drug to eight horses in Barn 1, where Junoob was housed, and prior to those horses completing fast work on the Rosehill training track that morning. 

Racing NSW chief vet Craig Suann said research suggested the treatment be given between 12 and 16 hours before the sample was taken later that day at Randwick races. Suann told the inquiry Furosemide could be a masking agent because it increases urination. It is also a performance-enhancer when given four hours before a race in the absence of water because it increases the power-to-weight ratio of a horse. 

In this case, neither was a factor, Suann said, because the length of time it was given before the race as the effect diminishes in short time. In the meantime, Waller is taking full responsibility. 

“It is embarrassing,” said Waller. “It was a mistake and we have learnt from our mistake and changed our procedures. The rules are clear and I have respect for them and the process the stewards had to go through and they did their job.” 

Waller has been dominant in Sydney racing and he currently leads the Sydney metropolitan trainer championship by a wide margin. The stable has had considerable success with tried horses from the UK allowing them to adapt to the Australian climate, training methods and feed. Junoob, a 6-year-old Haafhd gelding, is an example of the stable taking the UK listed winner to Group 2 heights after his arrival in Australia in 2013. This prominence has also brought with it heavy scrutiny from racing integrity departments. 

“You must be the most-swabbed trainer in Australia, about 50% of runners would be tested (1544 runners in 2013-14),” said Murrihy when handing down the fine. “There has to be a deterrent for this not to happen again,” he added. 

The stewards said that Waller’s good record of having only one sustained charge in 19 years as a trainer was in his favour at the time of assessing the penalty. 

Ironically, the stable provided the quinella (first and second) in the Metropolitan with Opinion (Ire) (Oasis Dream {GB}) promoted from second to first after the disqualification of Junoob.

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