VICTORIA'S chief steward, Terry Bailey, on Monday told trainer Ricky Maund that he had “beaten the break” when he avoided suspension for the race-day treatment of Timely Truce last month, and sounded a warning to all trainers to expect harsher penalties for the offence from now on.
In delivering a $10,000 fine to Maund, Bailey said a national push to increase penalties for race-day treatments – after a spate of discoveries during the Melbourne Cup carnival – were imminent and would more than likely result in suspensions.
The fine was the same amount recently handed to trainer Robert Smerdon for a similar offence.
“In the future this [breach of the rule] will be seen as a serious offence," Bailey told Maund. "The Smerdon fine of $10,000 was a long way from prior penalties for the offence and that decision was a clear message from stewards that race-day treatment can't be condoned and won't be condoned.
“You could well argue that both Smerdon and yourself have beaten the break.”
Following a stable raid by Racing Victoria's compliance assurance team on November 10 and the discovery of a blood mark on the neck of Timely Truce, Maund was found guilty of treating the horse on the day it was to race.
Maund argued that the mark was the result of a simple electrolyte treatment given the previous day, just as Smerdon had argued.
Subsequent blood and urine samples taken from Timely Truce revealed no prohibited substances.
Maund welcomed the move towards stronger penalties.
"As we are all aware, the stewards are tightening the reins to try to stamp out race-day treatment, and obviously I support that decision. I had a fair trial and I accept the penalty,” he said.
Earlier, trainer Jim Conlan's hearing into the race-day treatment of Rekindled Interest on October 6 was adjourned and will resume at a later date.
Meanwhile, Racing Victoria Limited said trainers who try to cheat its integrity investigators will be caught, regardless of the measures they employ to avoid detection.
Fairfax Media's revelation of a sophisticated range of techniques employed by cheats in a bid to avoid detection has put a spotlight on the murky world of racing's underbelly.
Some trainers post lookouts with mobile phones at the gates to their property to provide advance warning about raids by investigators. Other staff are used to delay investigators gaining immediate access to a property.
Some trainers employed less visible but more sophisticated methods, such as establishing two sets of medical and treatment records to hide illicit actions.
New RVL chief executive Bernard Saundry made it clear last week that his priority was to clean up the industry.
■The training partnership between Lee Freedman and Graeme Rogerson has come to an end less than eight months after the pair joined forces.
Freedman will return to Victoria but is yet to make any plans about his future as a trainer, while Rogerson will continue to train from the Randwick base, as well as his operation in New Zealand.