In a decision reminiscent of the $500 only fine for another leading Victorian greyhound trainer who returned a positive swab in a major race, Greyhound Racing Victoria stewards today conducted the delayed inquiry in to El Galo's positive swab from the 2008 Group 1 Topgun.
The result is not likely to appease many greyhound followers as again Jason Thompson has fronted the GRV Stewards and escaped with only a $1,000 fine.
Thompson more recently received only a paltry $1,000 fine for conduct not dissimilar to that which has seen a News South Wales greyhound trainer receive a 6 month disqualification.
Oficially, El Galo has rightly been disqualified as winner of the $100,000-to-the-winner Group 1 Topgun at The Meadows on October 25 last year and the Graham Long trained Regal Thyme will now be recognised as the 2008 Group 1 Topgun winner.
Had this inquiry been held prior to the Victorian Greyhound Of The Year Awards and Regal Thyme's Topgun win counted toward his form, would he have beaten El Galo for the award?
Officiating at the Stewards Inquiry were GRV Chief Steward Brian Williams, GRV Steward Dianne Pyers and GRV Steward Brett Polson. Those three Stewards heard evidence from Mr. P. Murley (Counsel), Mr. Jason Thompson (Trainer), Ms. Seona Hood (Owner), Mr. Andrew Mills (GRV Deputy Chief Steward), Dr. Alistair Smith (Veterinary Surgeon), Dr. Barry Haywood (Veterinary Surgeon) and Dr. J. Vine (RASL).
GRV Stewards, in today's inquiry found that the post-race urine sample taken from El Galo following last year's Topgun was positive to the drug N-butylhyoscine.
After hearing the evidence, stewards charged Mr Jason Thompson with breach of GAR83(2)(3) (as operating in 2008), in that he failed to present El Galo free of any drug for an event, given that a post-race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the drug N butylhyoscine.
Jason Thompson's application for deferring the intial hearing cited having "further tests conducted on the protocols and composition of the substance alleged to be contained in the positive swab” and not surprisingly he pleaded not guilty to the charge; although the Steward's Inquiry report makes no effort to establish the grounds upon which he based his defence.
GRV Stewards subsequently found Mr Thompson guilty as charged and fined him the sum of $1000.
Stewards also disqualified El Galo from first placing in the 2009 Group 1 Topgun event and amended the placings as follows :
- 1st Regal Thyme
- 2nd One Tree Hill
- 3rd All Caution
- 4th Mantra Lad
- 5th Trew Millions
- 6th Queen Lauryn
- 7th Cindeen Shelby
- Disq El Galo
Rank and file Victorian Greyhound Racing participants have long carried the burden that they believe there is "one rule for the top trainers and another for the ordinary trainer".
Unfortunately this decision goes nowhere near correcting that view, whether it is rightly held or not; and sets a dangerous precedent that two top trainers have now tested positive to banned substances in Group 1 races in Victoria in recent times and not recieved a suspension or disqualification themselves.
Whether directly related or not to the El Galo affair, or the Melbourne Cup fiasco; Australian Racing Greyhound can reveal that this inquiry may well be the very last Stewards Inquiry involving Dr Brian Williams as Chief Steward.
Apparently GRV CEO John Stewards has decided, after a tumultuous last 6 months in Victorian Greyhound Racing; to move Williams "sideways" in to GRV administration.
Current GRV Steward Glenn Fish has been put forward as the likely replacement, although Tasmanian Chief Steward Amanda Hill is rumoured to be interested in the job and would be oustide chance, having worked in Victoria as a Steward before moving to Tasmania.