O’Hara disqualified for one year, fined $25,000 after his appeal
Trainer John O’Hara has been disqualified for one year and fined $25,000, after his appeal over the five positive swabs on his horses and for possessing a prohibited medication.
He was initially fined a total of $55,000.
He copped the fines as the trainer and person responsible for presenting his horses to race, after which their urine samples returned positive to substances prohibited under racing rules.
After considering the evidence, together with submissions from O’Hara and the chief stipendiary steward, the appeal panel on Thursday dismissed his appeal against the severity of the penalties imposed.
However, the penalties were varied on three of the charges to 12 months’ disqualification on each charge to be served concurrently.
Although the disqualification was with immediate effect, O’Hara was given until Feb 15 to finalise all horse and staff transfers.
But he will not be permitted to have any runners during this period.
Hence, his runners at Kranji this afternoon have been withdrawn by order of the stewards.
They are Don’t Tell Tilly, Victorem and Red Roar in Race 4, Winning Hammer in Race 5 and Anyway and Awesome Conqueror in Race 9.
“It’s a bittersweet moment but I’m glad it’s over. The appeal panel was fair in their judgment and I would like to thank them,” said O’Hara, who has trained several hundred winners, including a few in the major races, in over 30 years.
“I’ll take a break and then decide what to do next.”
The horses who tested positive, all last year, were:
- Buuraq, who finished second in Race 3 on April 10;
- Don’t Tell Tilly, who finished second in Race 5 on April 18;
- Awesome Conqueror, who won Race 9 on May 29;
- Tigarous, who won Race 1 on July 25 and
- High Voltage, who finished third in Race 1 on Aug 22.
The urine samples of Buuraq, Don’t Tell Tilly, Awesome Conqueror and Tigarous returned positive to ranitidine. The drug is used to treat stomach and intestinal ulcers, and prevent them from coming back after they have healed.
It is a histamine and blocker, which decreases the amount of acid created by the stomach.
The sample of High Voltage returned positive to oripavine and morphine. Oripavine is a substance that is convertible into thebaine, which in turn is convertible into morphine, which is used to treat severe pain.
The five horses were disqualified from their races.
O’Hara was fined $10,000 on each charge. In addition, he was fined $5,000 for having “in his possession a medication which contained the prohibited substance, ranitidine, which had not been supplied or approved by the Singapore Turf Club Veterinary Department”.
All his appeals were dismissed. But the fines for Awesome Conqueror, Tigarous and High Voltage were altered to a 12-month disqualification to be served concurrently.