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Trainer must be ultimately responsible
It has been a long-standing tradition in sport that the person at the top bears responsibility for whatever goes wrong with the team or organisation that they are responsible for. While we have seen many examples in the Caribbean of this maxim being turned on its head, it nevertheless remains true and relevant that someone has to be accountable and if not the person at the top, then who? This issue was brought to the forefront again in local horse racing when the trainer of Bigmanintown was held responsible for the positive dope test result and therefore warned off for one month. The penalty for the offence could have varied from zero time off to a maximum of three or six months.
The details of the matter seemed indisputable that the champion racehorse did show up slightly higher levels of the prescribed substance than allowed and so his disqualification was automatic. The facts behind that matter are also seemingly undisputed, which is that the animal’s vet used the stipulated amount of the pain reliever, but the drug remained in the horse’s system a bit longer than expected, which has happened on many times previously. The trainer’s riposte, according to media reports, is that the vets should be licensed by the Racing Authority so that, presumably, some penalty can also be levied upon them.
While there can be no disputing the logic of this argument, it still would not diminish the responsibility of the trainer, who is the manager of the stable when it comes to an adverse finding.
In the case of the Bigman, it is well known that the horse has some joint issues and so the previous practice had been to carefully select his races and allow adequate spacing between races. This previous practice was abandoned last December, when the horse was asked to contest both the Stewards Cup and the Gold Cup in the space of one month, something he had not been asked to do for quite some time.
He performed creditably in both races (second both times) but was not quite as sharp in the Gold Cup when compared to the Stewards Cup (when he was an arguably unlucky loser).
Unfortunately, there will always be that slight question mark over whether the pain relief was a main contributor to his ability to compete in both races. Not that, that will ever take anything away from his lustre and evergreen fortitude, nor should it.
The horse’s trainer however has to accept full responsibility for what occurred and while he might lament the penalty imposed, he could not have been surprised. It was HIS decision to allow the horse to be injected between both races and the fact that the drug remained in the animal’s system suggest that he should have taken a bit more care and provided himself with some extra leeway in the event of that very thing. If he was given every assurance by the attending veterinarian then he should ensure that he either uses alternative vets in the future or he is guided by his own years of experience, which are quite extensive.
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