Reinsman who injected horse with vodka cops ban

Matt Anderson photographed after leaving a court hearing in 2018. Photo: NZME
Matt Anderson photographed after leaving a court hearing in 2018. Photo: NZME
Disgraced reinsman Matt Anderson has been banned from the harness racing industry for more than five years for his part in "tubing" a horse and injecting it with vodka on Cup Day.

At the time of his offending in November last year, Anderson was already under an industry ban after receiving criminal convictions in 2020 for assaulting and choking a woman.

In a strongly worded decision, the Racing Integrity Board said Anderson was "presently not fit to be involved in the harness racing industry".

On the morning of November 8 last year, the day of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club’s meeting at Addington, investigators staked out the Fernside, Canterbury stables of trainer Philip Burrows.

They covertly filmed Burrows injecting a substance into the trotter Rakero Rebel while Anderson held its head.

Anderson, 30, then applied a "twitch" device to restrain the horse while Burrows inserted a gastric tube into its nostril and oesophagus.

Burrows later admitted that the substance he injected was vodka, and that he administered a combination of bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar, Epsom salts and water through the tube.

Burrows has been disqualified from racing for 10 years for his actions.

The Racing Integrity Board [RIB] charged Anderson, along with Burrows, with administering a prohibited substance by hypodermic syringe and administering to Rakero Rebel a substance via a nasogastric tube on race day, which is against harness racing rules.

He was also charged with assisting Burrows in race-day preparation of Rakero Rebel and another horse, Millwood Indie, in contravention of his ban by Harness Racing New Zealand.

Anderson initially lied to investigators when confronted at another property about his actions that morning.

When he was told he had been filmed, he said he wanted legal advice before answering any questions, but later pleaded guilty to all charges.

The Racing Integrity Board, chaired by former High Court Justice Warwick Gendall, a King’s Counsel, called Anderson’s actions "deliberate and dishonest".

"It is aggravated by Mr Anderson’s defiance of the direction that he not be involved in the preparation of horses to race – that is, he should not have been anywhere near the tie-ups stable that morning," the decision said.

It said the film showed "surreptitious and furtive behaviour" which illustrated that Anderson knew precisely he was offending in a serious way.

His defiance of his previous warning was "arrogant" and showed total disregard for the standards of the profession.

"Mr Anderson did not co-operate, as did Mr Burrows. He first lied to the investigator," the decision said.

"When advised that a film existed he took refuge, as he had before, in silence. It was only after it was clear that any defence would have been futile that he had no option but to admit the charges."

The board banned Anderson from involvement in harness racing for five years and three months.

 - Ric Stevens, Open Justice reporter