Hair sample testing set to improve integrity

Hair sample testing set to improve integrity

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Phillip Bate analyses news from the Queensland racing scene.

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THE Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has begun testing the hair of Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Greyhound racing animals for prohibited substances.

Testing hair samples determines if there has been any use of prohibited substances in the lead-up time well before a race.

QRIC Racing Science Centre (RSC) director Dr Shawn Stanley said historically, anti-doping laboratories tested blood, urine and saliva to detect substance abuse through pre and post-race testing, but the use of some prohibited substances in the weeks leading up to a race could not be detected.

"Hair sampling leaves the cheaters with nowhere to hide. The commission does out of competition testing of body fluids, but with our current approach we have to rely on intelligence gathering to determine which animals to test, and the ideal time to collect the sample. This is much less of an issue if the substance suspected of being used can be detected in hair," Dr Stanley said.

QRIC chief scientist Dr Shawn Stanley. Picture: Queensland Racing Integrity Commission

QRIC chief scientist Dr Shawn Stanley. Picture: Queensland Racing Integrity Commission

"Banned substances including anabolic agents such as anabolic androgenic steroids along with hormones and metabolic modulators will be targeted with hair testing. Hair retains the traces of prohibited substances for months, acting like a reservoir for drugs that have been administered over time."

Different window for detection

RACING Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said blood, urine and hair all provided a different window for the detection of prohibited substances in racing animals.

"The welcome addition of hair sampling to the commission's testing arsenal will enhance the integrity of racing in Queensland. The commission is always looking for new and innovative ways to ensure there is a level playing field for participants and for the betting public and this is our latest innovation in the testing space. This is a simple, non-invasive test, but it could have far-reaching implications for anyone planning to use prohibited substances to avoid the commission's testing regime," Mr Barnett said.

"If prohibited substances are proven through hair testing it is a breach of the rules and participants will be charged. We have begun taking a small number of out of competition samples from greyhounds and we will start taking hair samples from racehorses shortly. Following an initial sampling and testing phase the RSC will supervise the full implementation of hair sampling as a regular procedure for Queensland's racing animals."

RQ farewells Lester Grimmett

Former Racing Queensland chief handicapper Lester Grimmett. Picture: Racing Queensland

Former Racing Queensland chief handicapper Lester Grimmett. Picture: Racing Queensland

RACING Queensland has farewelled its longest serving employee and handicapping stalwart Lester Grimmett who retired on Tuesday after more than 50 years in the industry.

The 73-year-old got his start in the industry in 1968, taking shorthand notes at stewards' inquiries for the Queensland Turf Club on a part-time basis. By 1973 he had risen through the ranks to become an assistant handicapper for the QTC, and seven years later was appointed head handicapper.

Grimmett oversaw a golden age in Queensland racing, having had the pleasure of weighting the likes of Strawberry Road and Vo Rogue, as well as Chief De Beers whom he still singles out as his favourite horse.

Conversely, on a day shrouded in infamy, Grimmett - in his official capacity - was present in the stewards' room during Fine Cotton affair in 1984, a day in which he was required to physically check whether the brands matched the QTC records.

In 2003, Grimmett's role as chief handicapper saw him lead the introduction of a centralised handicapping system to cover the whole state, a role in which he served until 2015. Affectionately known as 'The Cat', Grimmett stepped aside as chief handicapper five years ago to move into a part-time role, which he has since occupied through until his retirement.

"I grew up with a passion for the industry, and can remember going to the track as early as four years old with my mother, so to work in an industry I have always loved was a dream come true. I've had the pleasure of handicapping the likes of Chief De Beers and Vo Rogue; I think I got Vo Rogue beat one day by allocating him what proved to be too much weight," Grimmett said.

"Although it won't be remembered for the right reasons, to have played a part in the Fine Cotton affair is something I will never forget, and I still have my handwritten notes from that day. I just want to be remembered as a good handicapper, someone who did the job well and got the weights right. I loved every day of it. I walked in there early days and couldn't believe how lucky I was to be getting paid to work in an industry I love - to do that for nearly 52 years is a privilege and an honour," he said.

RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said to work in the Queensland racing industry for more than 50 years was an incredible accomplishment. "Lester has served the industry with distinction in his longevity, dedication to his craft and his incredible knowledge. We wish him all the best in retirement, and look forward to being able to welcome him on-course as a patron - a day that is long overdue for him," he said.

Godolphin cast-off wins Brisbane Listed race

Rockhampton sprinter Inquiry (blue cap) ridden by Ryan Wiggins winning the Listed Spear Chief Handicap at Doomben from Scallopini ridden by Brad Thornton. Picture: Racing Queensland

Rockhampton sprinter Inquiry (blue cap) ridden by Ryan Wiggins winning the Listed Spear Chief Handicap at Doomben from Scallopini ridden by Brad Thornton. Picture: Racing Queensland

BEST Bets has Gold Coast-based John Smerdon listed as the trainer of Godolphin cast-off 5YO gelding Inquiry who won the 1350m Listed Spear Chief Handicap at Doomben on Saturday.

In fact, Smerdon was in a care-taker mode for Rockhampton trainer Jared Whelow who decided the Rockhampton sprinter deserved a tilt at some city races at Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Having floated the horse south, Whelow remained to watch Inquiry run second at Doomben and then returned to Rockhampton. Inquiry subsequently had three starts for Smerdon with a win and a third at the Gold Coast followed by his first black type win in the Spear Chief.

With his southern campaign yielding $100,500 from two wins and two placings, Inquiry has now headed back to Rockhampton for the Rockhampton Newmarket on July 17 followed by the Mackay Newmarket (July 31) and the Townsville Cleveland Bay (August 14).

Bred by Darley, Inquiry is by Exceed And Excel from Lonhro's Group 3 winning daughter Screen, and had 10 starts for the Godolphin stable for three wins at Hawkesbury and Newcastle plus two placings. He was then sold for $80,000 at the 2018 Magic Million spring racehorse sale to Australian Bloodstock and placed with Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan.

Five starts later which yielded a Tamworth open win and two placings, he was on-sold for $30,000 at the 2020 Inglis Digital January Sale to clients of Rockhampton trainer Jared Whelow. Beginning on March 17, Inquiry put together a picket fence of four successive wins at Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville before his successful southern campaign. All up, his race record now stands at 23 starts for 10 wins and six placings and earnings of $255,495.

Rockhampton trio for Raiden

A photo-finish in an 1100m open handicap at Rockhampton saw Raiden (outside) ridden by Brad Pengelly prevail over Master Jamie (obscured on rails) ridden by Les Tilley. Picture: Caught in the Act Photography CQ

A photo-finish in an 1100m open handicap at Rockhampton saw Raiden (outside) ridden by Brad Pengelly prevail over Master Jamie (obscured on rails) ridden by Les Tilley. Picture: Caught in the Act Photography CQ

RAIDEN - a 6YO gelding with a Group 1 pedigree - has shown his affinity for Rockhampton's Callaghan Park racetrack with three starts for three wins.

The latest came on June 23, in an 1100m open handicap where he prevailed in a photo-finish over quality 3YO Master Jamie who was seeking his seventh win in succession. Master Jamie - recently recovered from Ross River virus - carried 63.5kg while Raiden had only 0.5kg less on 63kg.

Now trained by Rockhampton-based Adrian Coombe, Raiden began his racing career with Newcastle-based Paul Perry who paid $420,000 for him at the 2015 Inglis Melbourne Premier yearling sale. The reason for the high price was his Group 1 pedigree being a first crop son of Fastnet Rock's Group 1 winning sprinter Foxwedge from the winning Encosta De Lago mare Glowlamp who placed third in both the Group 1 Champagne Stakes at Randwick as a 2YO filly and the One Thousand Guineas at Caulfield at three. In addition, Glowlamp is closely related to champion racehorse and sire Rock Of Gibraltar whose five Group 1 wins included both the English and Irish Two Thousand Guineas.

While his $210,345 prize money is just over half his yearling purchase price, he can lay claim to nine wins at Rockhampton, Mackay, Doomben and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland plus Warwick Farm, Gosford and Scone in NSW.

QTIS premiers for May

Top QTIS 3YO earner for May Baroda ridden by Andrew Mallyon winning at the Gold Coast on May 1. Picture: Racing Queensland

Top QTIS 3YO earner for May Baroda ridden by Andrew Mallyon winning at the Gold Coast on May 1. Picture: Racing Queensland

MAY was a great month for Sunshine Coast trainer Stuart Kendrick, winning $43,200 in QTIS bonus prize money to claim the title of top 2YO QTIS trainer for May.

Toowoomba-based Tony and Maddysen Sears again featured in the winner's circle, earning $32,250 and finishing just ahead of Toby and Trent Edmonds, Gold Coast, only $800 behind.

The Sears' result has seen them move into second position on the Season Table for 2YO QTIS Trainers, bumping Robert Heathcote into third position on $160,800 with Les Ross still enjoying a comfortable lead on $190,450 in QTIS prize money. Ross and Heathcote both train at Brisbane's Eagle Farm racetrack.

Sunshine Coast-based Natalie McCall banked $50,450 to easily claim the title of leading 3YO QTIS Trainer for May, with Gary Duncan (Sunshine Coast) on $37,250 sitting behind her and just a nose ahead of Toby and Trent Edmonds on $36,750. Their efforts weren't enough to have an impact on the seasonal table, with Robert Heathcote maintaining his lead with $260,850 QTIS bonus prize money for the season. Tony Gollan (Eagle Farm) is steadily gaining on him, just $9000 behind and Toby and Trent Edmonds have $187,600 and remain third.

A great city win for Wisdom Of Water (Edmonds) saw him claim top 2YO Runner for May with Spiritomo (Sprit Of Boom) and Starfilly (Star Witness) each collecting $16,200 to place equal second. There's been no change to the 2YO Runners Season Table with 2YO filly Spirit One (Spirit Of Boom) remaining the one to catch with $94,500. Lady Banff (Top Echelon) sits $10,000 behind and Rothfire (Rothesay) has $73,500 in QTIS bonus prize money for the season to be third.

Baroda (Epaulette) trained by Toby and Trent Edmonds proved to be top 3YO earner in May, banking $36,750 in QTIS prize money for connections. The Sinner (Better Than Ready) earnt $28,000 for second position with Command'n'Conquer (Warhead) and The Odyssey (Better Than Ready) each winning a city race and $24,500 to place equal third on the table. With QTIS bonuses now totaling $106,050, Baroda has jumped from fifth into top spot on the season table for QTIS 3YO runners, pushing long-time leader Guntantes (Rothesay) into second position, just $500 behind, while Better Reflection (Better Than Ready) is now down into third spot with $94,500.

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