Port Macquarie horse trainer John Sprague banned for 12 months

Appealing: Port Macquarie horse trainer John Sprague has appealed his 12 month ban. 
Photo: file photo
Appealing: Port Macquarie horse trainer John Sprague has appealed his 12 month ban. Photo: file photo

PORT Macquarie horse trainer John Sprague has lodged an appeal against conviction and penalty after being found guilty by Racing NSW Stewards under AR178.

He was handed a 12 month disqualification after one of his runners, Saint Denis, returned a positive cobalt sample following a race on October 29, 2017.

The horse placed third in race three (Maiden Plate, 1500m) at Tuncurry Racecourse. If the ban is not overturned, Sprague would be eligible to reapply for his trainer's licence on January 3, 2019.

Racing NSW confirmed stewards conducted an inquiry into the Analysts’ findings of cobalt at a concentration above the level excepted in AR178C(1) in a pre-race urine sample taken from Saint Denis.

Evidence was taken from Sprague, who also represented the interests of the owners, as well as Racing NSW Official Veterinarian Dr Tania Selig and Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory Science Manager Dr Adam Cawley.

Sprague was found guilty of a charge under AR178 of having brought Saint Denis to Tuncurry Racecourse for the purposes of the gelding engaging in a race when a prohibited substance was detected in a pre-race sample.

Sprague’s unblemished record of 25 years of training and 40 years involvement in the industry where considered by stewards when handing down the penalty.

Under the provisions of AR196(6)(a) the commencement of the penalty was deferred for seven days, however, Mr Sprague may not start a horse in any race during that period.

Under the powers of AR177, Saint Denis was disqualified from its third placing in the race.

A date for Sprague’s appeal is yet to be set.