McDonald’s HK season ends with positive drug test

By: Mark Mazzaglia
July 10th, 2012

Top New Zealand jockey James McDonald‘s Hong Kong season has ended after being suspended for returning a positive drug test to diuretics and will commence his time out after Sunday’s Sha Tin’s meeting.

James McDonald and Solzhenitsyn

James McDonald Hong Kong racing season is over after being suspended - photo © Daniel Costello

The talented Kiwi jockey pleaded guilty to supplying a urine sample which contained banned substances and is out until August 6.

McDonald was allowed to fulfil his seven rides at Sha Tin last Sunday even though he had the positive test to a diuretic drug hanging over his head.

The young jockey flew to Hong Kong for rides the previous Sunday but had to forego three of his seven mounts when he succumbed to the heat and then missed two winners at Happy Valley on Wednesday night after he was forced to miss the meeting because of flu.

But in the meantime, The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s laboratory informed the stewards that McDonlad had returned a positive reading from a random urine sample to hydrochlorothiazide and chlorothiazide, both of which are diuretics and on the club’s list of prohibited substances.

Chief steward Kim Kelly stated that there was no connection between the urine sample testing positive and McDonald’s absence from last Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting.

Diuretics are used to help with weight reduction by overcoming fluid retention and even though they were widely used by jockeys in the past, they have gradually disappeared over the last ten years and better methods of weight control have been established.

Australian jockeys had another good day in the saddle at Sha Tin on Sunday with Tim Clark and Zac Purton both riding a double and Brett Prebble picking up another winner.

But Purton’s day could easier have turned to tragedy when his mount Chater Mikado suffered an heart attack while standing in the starting gates prior to the start of the second last race.

Purton was able to scramble to safety in the upright structure of the barriers but the scene could have been horrific if Chater Mikado had suffered the attack during the race, possibly bringing several other runners down.

“He was standing in there for a while and he was very quiet, then he gave one little twinge and didn’t move,” Purton said.

“That was when I got off him because I thought he was about to rear and flip over, but he stayed leaning against the side of the stall and one of the barrier attendants told me he was dead. I didn’t believe it but they said it again. It happened very quickly.”

Purton had requested that Chater Mikado be loaded into the starting gates last because he had been missing the start of late but the starter ordered the runners to load in their original order.

“It’s just as well he didn’t let me do it my way – if Chater Mikado had gone in and then they jumped, the race might have been under way when Chater Mikado died and something even worse might have happened,” said Purton.

Purton is now level with Prebble with sixty-two wins for the season while Clark is very happy with the way his first Hong Kong season is going and has exceeded his own expectations as he entered the top ten in the jockey’s premiership table with twenty-six winners.

“If you had said to me at the start of the season that I was going to ride at least 26 winners in my first season then I would have been more than happy,” Clark said.

“I’d set my sights on between 20 to 25 winners, so to get past that is a really good achievement and something I am really proud of.”

Douglas Whyte continues to hold an unbeatable lead in the jockey’s tile with an amazing one hundred and seven winners for the season but is looking unlikely to beat his best season tally of one hundred and fourteen with only two meetings remaining.

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