A CASE of mistaken identity has led to penalties being imposed against participants including Harness Racing Victoria officials.
The inquiry began when HRV received notification from its New South Wales counterparts that a horse being presented to race was not the same as the horse listed on the registry.
Systamatic was taken to the track to compete, but inspection of the gelding’s freeze brand revealed it was Four Starzzz Chef, which was stabled and trained in Victoria.
During the course of HRV’s inquiry, the chain of events leading to the mix-up was discovered, with the timeline reading:
- In late 2013 two colts were bred in Leeton, New South Wales. One colt with the breeding ‘Four Starzzz Shark X Cheftaine’ and the other ‘Mister Feelgood X Gilgirl’;
- In 2015 the colt with the breeding ‘Four Starzzz Shark X Cheftaine’ was named ‘Four Starzzz Chef’. The colt with the breeding ‘Mister Feelgood X Gilgirl’ was named ‘Systamatic’. Both colts remained in the ownership of the breeder;
- In 2017 Ashleigh Herbertson undertook the training of an unraced horse, which he believed to be, ‘Four Starzzz Chef’;
- Herbertson provided evidence to the inquiry that he had departed from his usual stable practice on this occasion of comparing the horses appearance against that listed on the Registration Assessment Certificate (RAC);
- During the period 9 August 2017 and 30 October 2017 Herbertson presented the horse, who he believed to be, ‘Four Starzzz Chef’ with the breeding to the races;
- DNA sample testing revealed the breeding of the horse Herbertson’s presented to race as ‘Four Starzzz Chef’ was in fact that of Systamatic; while Systamatic, which had been presented to race in New South Wales was Four Starzzz Chef
Herbertson was found guilty under Australian Harness Racing Rule 45(8) which states: “(5) A person shall ensure that the correct horse is presented to start in a race” and was subsequently fined $1500.
Four Starzzz Chef has been disqualified from all is races.
HRV has also taken action against the relevant staff in accordance with employment policies and procedures, while also implementing various changes to the race day inspection process in order to prevent any reoccurrence.
At the time of writing, it is unclear what action HRNSW is taking against the trainer of Systamatic and its officials.