Prominent horse trainer banned for eight years

Nigel McGrath. Photo:
Nigel McGrath. Photo:
Prominent Canterbury harness racing driver and trainer Nigel McGrath has been disqualified for eight years after pleading guilty to three serious racing offences.

McGrath was charged with attempting to administer a prohibited substance to a horse, refusing to make a statement on the matter, and obstructing racecourse investigators. The Judicial Control Authority released its decision today after a hearing held in June.

The charges arose after the Racing Integrity Unit raided McGrath's West Melton property in March, hours before two of his horses - Steel The Show and Could Nine - were due to race at Addington.

Over a period of time, the RIU received information indicating that in the hours prior to races, McGrath would ‘tube’ horses in his shed between the stables and the main road.

Tubing is when a rubber or plastic tube is inserted through a horse’s nose into its oesophagus for the purpose of administering a liquid substance. A funnel is usually attached to the tube and the liquid poured into the funnel, using gravity to force the liquid into the horse’s stomach.

Located in the shed were McGrath, stablehand Robert Burrows, Steel The Show and a backpack containing tubing gear, including a coiled rubber hose, a plastic funnel, a twitch and an empty 800ml plastic drink bottle containing residue.

McGrath refused to answer questions about the tubing gear and would not hand over the equipment, which has still not been recovered by the RIU.

It is not the first time McGrath has been charged with horse doping offences.

In 2004, he was caught up in the Blue Magic scandal, and was found guilty by the Judicial Control Authority of administering propantheline bromide to horses before racing.

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

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

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