Aussie’s inters fate rests with HRNZ after illness
By Garrick Knight
It wouldn’t be an Inter Dominion Series without some last minute controversy and it has once again materialised on the eve of Auckland’s 2019 edition.
The series’ fourth favourite, McLovin, has been scratched from tomorrow night’s first round of the Trotting Championship heats at Alexandra Park.
His Victorian trainer, Andy Gath, says the son of Monarchy broke out in a fever this morning.
“He didn’t eat up last night and had a really high temperature this morning,” Gath told HRNZ.
“So, I got him treated with medication which has ruled him out of tomorrow night.”
But as of Thursday lunchtime, he was not officially ruled out of the series.
Gath was holding on to hope that McLovin could re-enter the series on Tuesday for the second round of heats, something which is technically possible under the series conditions.
“To be eligible to compete in the Grand Final of the Trotting Championship, horses shall start in all Qualifying Heats, unless exemption is granted by the Host Controlling Body, which shall decide upon each case according to its merits,” reads the relevant condition.
The host controlling body is Harness Racing New Zealand and they are being called upon to make a determination in the next 48 hours, before Tuesday’s second round of heats are drawn up late Saturday morning.
Handicapper Andrew Morris said he would be consulting with the Racing Integrity Unit and the Inter Dominion Council and a decision would be made in due course once all information had been gathered.
The Inter Dominion Council includes both HRNZ’s CEO, Peter Jensen, and his Harness Racing Australia counterpart, Andrew Kelly.
The Racing Integrity Unit’s Nick Ydgren said he had been contacted by Gath for clarification on withholding periods this morning, but had not yet been notified of what specific medications were administered.
Gath says there is a precedent in place, with both Sinbad Bay (1995) and Bag Limit (1987) granted permission to re-enter the series after scratching through illness.
“But they were both ultimately scratched prior to racing, anyway.”
Bag Limit’s scratching allowed subsequent grand final winner, My Lightning Blue, back in to the field.
Auckland Trotting Club Racing Manager, Regan Cotter, believes McLovin would get zero points for Round 1, meaning even if he was allowed back in for Tuesday, he would face an uphill task to make the final.
Gath just wants the option available should McLovin recover in the next 48 hours.
In another bitter blow for a series already light on numbers, Credit Master was also scratched from tomorrow night’s first round of heats after contracting an infection.