Waterhouse escapes charges from Rockabill inquiry

By: Mark Mazzaglia
September 21st, 2013

Trainer Gai Waterhouse was reminded again of her obligation to notify Racing New South Wales stewards of any condition affecting a horse in the lead up to its engagement when she escaped any charges in relation to the last scratching of Rockabill at Newcastle on Wednesday.

Gai Waterhouse

Gai Waterhouse, above, escaped charges following the Rockabill inquiry. Photo by Steve Hart.

Waterhouse was asked to attend the inquiry yesterday to clear up the circumstances surrounding Rockabill who was scheduled to run in the Group 3 $150,000 Coca-Cola Spring Stakes (1600m).

Rockabill was found to be slightly lame on Tuesday morning when inspected by stable vet Dr Leanne Begg but Waterhouse, who was in Melbourne, ordered another check after the colt was reshod.

Begg reassessed Rockabill on Tuesday afternoon and found him to be okay but was found to be slightly lame again on Wednesday morning.

Racing NSW vet Dr Craig Suann was then notified after the 7.30am scratching deadline and after a further inspection Rockabill was deemed a late scratching.

“As soon as I saw the horse, which was Wednesday morning, and noticed it was mildly lame I instructed Dr Begg to notify Dr Suann,” Waterhouse said at the inquiry.

Chief steward Ray Murrrihy reminded Waterhouse that it was her obligation to notify the stewards of any problem a runner had after acceptance time as sooon as practicable so as to keep the public informed, but no charges were laid.

“You have an obligation as the trainer to notify stewards before scratching time, not the vet, not 24 hours later, but as soon as practical,” Murrihy said.

“People will lose confidence if we are not transparent, this is a matter that should have had full public disclosure and a subsequent inspection would follow.”

Waterhouse had at the beginning of the hearing, through her lawyer Mr Phillip Beazley of Beazley Singleton, presented an application to have Murrihy removed from the inquiry, claiming he was bias after officiating at the very public More Joyous inquiry following the Group 1 $400,000 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill and the Group 1 $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick in April.

The leading Randwick trainer was fined a total of $7000 for failing to notify stewards that More Joyous was not one hundred per cent fit leading up to the two Autumn Carnival Group 1 races.

Waterhouse also applied to have deputy chief steward Marc Van Gestle removed from the panel as well as asking the Supreme Court for an injunction for the hearing.

The applications were denied although Van Gestle volunteered to remove himself from the stewards’ panel but still gave evident at the inquiry.

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