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In July 2018 myself and Investigative Steward Russell Anderson had the opportunity to attend the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre and spend time with students who are seeking to enter the industry. It was great to be able to discuss the importance of integrity in the sport of harness racing in Victoria and the role of Harness Racing Victoria's Integrity Department. Detective Senior Constable Cliff Pickett and James Moller, Specialist Financial Analyst from the Sporting Intelligence Integrity Unit of  Victoria Police, also attended on the day to provide insight into their roles in relation to corruption and criminal activity in sport.

Since 2015, HRV has had seven licensed participants charged by Victoria Police in relation to criminal charges for race fixing (or corrupt a betting outcome type offences) under the Crime Amendment (Integrity In Sports) Act 2013. These people have appeared at Magistrates' Courts in relation to criminal charges, which no doubt creates enormous stress, with financial and emotional consequences to themselves and their families. The issue of race fixing/match fixing is one that challenges all sporting regulatory bodies, which is why I applaud the stance of Shayne Cramp in the last edition of Integrity Matters. Shayne’s comments were published to get his message out there, in order to hopefully prevent others from engaging in such conduct and to learn from it. It's important to have people being bold enough to talk among their peers and to the industry of their conduct and the consequences of their actions. I applaud all those who have agreed to participate in Integrity Matters to talk about integrity's importance and, for those who have transgressed and been suspended or disqualified, the subsequent impact that it had on their reputations, careers  and wellbeing. I'd welcome hearing from anybody who would want to share their story.

If you have any suggestions or would like to read about particular issues, please email integritymatters@hrv.org.au.

Brent Fisher
General Manager - Integrity
Harness Racing Victoria Stewards continue to find trainers not complying with the requirements under Australian Harness Racing Rule 190B of keeping a log book that lists all therapeutic substances in their possession and any treatment administered to a horse under their care. The rules can be viewed on page 61 of the most recent edition of the Harness Racer. HRV Stewards place all trainers on notice that from November 1 2018 any trainer who does not produce a log book that complies with the requirements of AHRR 190B may be penalised. The minimum penalty for any beaches will be a fine of $200. Log books may be ordered at a small cost from Posh Printing by phoning (03) 9331 5979 or email info@poshprint.com.au. Alternatively, the Trainers Therapeutic Substance Register and Horse Treatment Register templates may be accessed free at the thetrots.com.au by clicking the 'Participant Forms' link under 'For Participants'.

Serious Offence Penalty Guidelines were recently approved by the HRV Board and are outlined on page 60 of the most recent edition of the Harness Racer.  These guidelines will commence 1 January, 2019. HRV Integrity Council, VTDA and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the RAD Board were consulted in regard to these guidelines. These guidelines should assist licensed participants on possible penalties that may be sought by the stewards, however penalties have the capacity to be decreased significantly for various factors. They are guidelines only and should only be treated as such.
Brett Day
Acting Chairman of Stewards
Why Integrity Matters to Me

This edition we talk to Jenni Lewis, manager of Gippsland Harness Training Centre.
Tell us about your background and Gippsland Harness Training Centre?
JL: "The GHTC was set up 22 years ago to provide a place of learning for people who wanted to be involved in harness racing, but didn’t have the opportunities to do this through the more traditional channels such as family or friends. I was a student myself at the GHTC in 2002 and began working there after completing my studies in 2003. I started as an assistant to the then manager, Des Hughes, but it was always my goal to one day be the manager. I left in 2010 to work with thoroughbreds in Cardinia with trainer Udyta Clarke, but took a couple of my own trotters, which I worked from her property. She was a driver and trainer of harness horses, so she understood the different needs of the standardbred.  Then in 2013, I was asked if I would be interested in coming back to the GHTC to manage the school and I have been there since."

IM: What do you teach to the students about Integrity?
JL: "In every course we teach, there is a complete unit dedicated to integrity and complying with the rules of racing. We try to uphold the highest standards when we are out in the industry. Each year we invite the Racing Integrity Commissioner, HRV and RVL stewards and the HRV Integrity Manager to talk to students about the importance of integrity in sport, their responsibilities to the industry and the implications should rule breaches take place."
How has the importance of integrity changed? 
JL: "The perception of the wider community matters more than ever before. I feel that we have had to change immensely as the racing industry is so closely scrutinised in the areas of horse welfare and our participants’ professionalism. We must show that we give all participants a fair go, and that we provide the best care for our animals."
hat does integrity mean to you?
JL: "To say it is everything to me sounds a bit corny, but it is the base of everything I do. I’d like to think I instil this into all students that come through the GHTC — the importance of doing the right thing cannot be overstated.  For new people coming into the industry, it’s so important that they feel that they have a chance just like anyone else. It’s imperative for our industry to grow."
Trainers reminded of arsenic obligations

As a result of continued instances where horses are presented to race with arsenic levels above the allowable threshold, trainers are once again reminded of their obligations under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) to present a horse to race free of prohibited substances.

Trainers should ensure that their husbandry, supplementation and/or feeding practices do not bring about a breach of the rules. If trainers have a concern about their husbandry regime bringing about a contravention they should consult their veterinarian or the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV)Integrity Department on 03 8378 0222.
Trainers are further reminded under AHRR 190(4) that an offence is committed if a horse is presented with a prohibited substance in its system, regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse.

The presence of arsenic above a concentration of 0.30 micrograms per millilitre (µg/mL) in a raceday equine urine sample is a prohibited substance. Products that contain arsenic include, but are not limited to, Ferrocyl, Jurocyl, and Invigorate injections. It is claimed the use of these injectable preparations on horses may improve appetite and the appearance of the coat, and may aid in the treatment of anaemia or general weakness. However, there is no rational evidence-based indication for the use of arsenic in horses. Arsenic containing substances are not routinely used nor recommended as treatment for any medical condition in horses.

Arsenic is an element that naturally occurs in the environment in very small amounts in rocks, soil, water, air (from volcanic eruptions) and plants. Therefore horses, like all species, may normally inhale or ingest very small amounts of arsenic. Arsenic is used in the production of pesticides and herbicides, although these applications are declining. Use of arsenic containing insecticides for management of cattle tick and lice problems in sheep was banned in 1987, yet soil around the site where the ‘dip’ once was on farms may remain contaminated with arsenic for many years. Arsenic is still used as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and arsenic trioxide for its insecticidal properties to treat timber (ie. to prevent termite damage). This can give treated timber such as pine posts a greenish tint.

During investigations into arsenic irregularities reported by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL), HRV in company with other racing authorities and RASL engaged the University of Melbourne to conduct a trial to research the levels of arsenic in horses that had ingested a known amount of CCA treated timber sawdust. This administration resulted in urinary concentrations of arsenic that exceeded the threshold concentration in some of the horses.

Therefore, it may be possible that a horse could have a urinary level of arsenic that exceeds the threshold concentration if it chews and ingests a sufficiently large quantity of CCA treated timber. With this aspect of the research completed, trainers are placed on notice that an explanation of environmental contamination (through CCA timber or other means) will not necessarily be considered a significant penalty mitigating factor for anyone found to have presented a horse with urinary concentrations above the arsenic threshold in the future. Trainers are advised to take measures to ensure that racing horses do not have access to environmental sources of arsenic including treated timber products.

This is the fifth media release notification to trainers in relation to arsenic. The previous notices to trainers were released on February 22 2016, October 19 2016, May 23 2017 and January 22 2018. Due to the persistent occurrences of horses being presented to race with arsenic levels above the allowable threshold despite continued warnings to the harness racing industry, trainers are advised that HRV Stewards may look to seek increased penalties at future HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board hearings in relation to investigations regarding arsenic irregularities.
Dealing with lameness 

One of the most frustrating contenders to deal with when running a training business is the occurrence of lameness.
The HRV Veterinary Department recently ran a study on lameness by looking at all the post-race veterinary exams between October 26  2017 and April 26 2018.

Lameness was identified in as many as one in every four veterinary examinations, indicating the wastage potential of this problem.

The incidence of lameness in Victorian racing standardbreds was comparable to data found in other jurisdictions, indicating that we share this problem and it is likely not track or climate specific but largely the nature of the sport and training.

It is important from a training point of view to lower the impact that lameness has on your stable by identifying it early.
Horses that are lame will often break stride and/or lug to one side.

Lugging usually occurs to the side away from the lameness, because the horse attempts to put less force through the sore leg.
Prolonged recovery time after racing and observation of any abnormalities or stiffness in gait past two days post-race can indicate a problem starting. Horses can often be sore in more than one leg, so identifying the underlying problem can require perseverance.

Hind limb suspensory ligament failure is the most common injury in racing standardbreds followed by injuries to the superficial digital flexor tendon.

The knee (carpus) is reported to be the most common joint injured in the forelimb while the hock and fetlock are common sites in the hind limb.

Diagnosing and treating lameness early is important as even mild lameness can cause a one to two-second decrease in the mile rate with the most impact occurring in the last quarter mile.

Earlier trainer surveys suggest that only 17 per cent of musculoskeletal problems occur during racing, with the bulk of injuries (46 per cent) occurring during training, so evaluating your training techniques is essential.

Risk factors reported to increase incidence of lameness included performing fast work on tracks with no banking or less banking than commercial racetracks, warm ups of less than nine minutes or longer than 10 minutes, training on deep sand and very high training workloads.

Interestingly more recent research suggests that musculoskeletal injuries decrease as the horse races more frequently. This latter observation may simply be a function of sounder horses being able to run more races.

There is evidence, however, that the demands of racing induce adaptive physiological change in the equine athlete that reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injury if the horse is given ample opportunity to recover and adapt after the exertion.
Although lameness due to musculoskeletal injury is the most common abnormality found during veterinary examinations, trainers need to be aware it is the repetitive overstrain of structures during training rather than racing that makes an injury more likely to occur.

Lameness is an important performance and welfare issue and preventing it ensures not only a sound happy racing animal but also one that can go on to have a fulfilled and purposeful life after retirement from racing.
Getting to Know: Jason Fino

This month we're Getting to Know HRV Starter and assistant steward Jason Fino.

IM: Tell us about your background?
JF: "My grandfather, Joe Abela, probably gave me the harness racing bug. He had some very nice horses in Ascot Vale, the best being probably Romantic Joeanne. After Pop passing l started to help a friend on weekends and then eventually got my drivers’ licence when l was 16 years old. I then got my trainers' licence too. I got married into a family who was involved in harness racing as well. I’ve always had a horse or two in the stables."
IM: What is your role at HRV?
JF: "Starter and assistant steward."
IM: Why did you want to join the HRV Integrity Department?
JF: "I have always had a passion for harness racing, so it wasn’t hard to make the decision to join the HRV Integrity Department as a full-time career."
IM: How have you found the transition from being a licensed driver/trainer to a starter/steward?
JF: "Really interesting and eye-opening in preparing for a race meting and what happens on race day to make sure things run to schedule."
IM: Having been involved in the industry for so long how has the importance of integrity changed over the years?
JF: "It’s always been important, but now more than ever. And it’s this focus that I think is really going to help the industry move forward."
IM: What does integrity mean to you?
JF: "It means following your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances."
Contact Integrity Matters any time via email: integritymatters@hrv.org.au
or phone: (03) 9214 0651
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