High-profile Canterbury harness racing trainer admits to charges

Photo: Martin Hunter / Getty Images
Photo: Martin Hunter / Getty Images
Embattled Canterbury harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath has admitted to three of the serious racing offences he was charged with after a raid on his property.

McGrath’s latest brush with racing investigators could see him off the scene for a lengthy period.

A Judicial Control Authority hearing will be held on June 13. McGrath is disputing some of the facts.

In March, Racing Integrity Unit investigators raided McGrath’s Weedons property.

He was charged with attempting to administer with another person a prohibited substance to horse Steel The Show, refusing to make a statement to inspectors regarding his actions, obstructing a racecourse inspector(s) in their attempts to seize evidence, failure to follow lawful direction when instructed regarding Steel The Show and failure to follow lawful direction when requested regarding production of evidence. 

Nigel McGrath. Photo: nigelmcgrathracing.co.nz
Nigel McGrath. Photo: nigelmcgrathracing.co.nz
He was also banned from entering any racecourse.

RIU manager of integrity assurance Neil Grimstone said two of the charges would be withdrawn and some facts around the three charges still standing would be disputed.

He would not say which charges McGrath had admitted.

McGrath did not return calls to Star News. His lawyer Pip Hall QC would not comment.

The raid on his property came several hours before a meeting at Addington where Steel The Show was due to race.

The horse and another of McGrath’s runners Cloud Nine were scratched from the meeting.

McGrath was also caught up in the ongoing police investigation into the racing industry, Operation Inca.

He was charged with a race-fixing offence, which was later dismissed in the district court.

The charge came after raceway stipendiary stewards launched an inquiry into a race at Addington Raceway in March 2018.

They were concerned by the manner McGrath had driven one of the two horses he trained in the race - Star Commander. His other horse, Sheriff, won.

The matter was then heard by the Judicial Control Authority.

McGrath pleaded guilty to improper driving and was suspended from driving for six months, and ordered to pay costs of $11,500.

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