Chief steward Terry Bailey accused former trainer Tony Karakatsanis of not knowing the difference between a chaff bag full of hay and one containing a bucket, a funnel, some powders and two lengths of plastic tubing.
Karakatsanis has told an inquiry into the discovery of the equipment used for stomach-tubing racehorses that he picked up the bag containing it in the belief it contained hay.
The inquiry results from a raid by stewards on the Flemington stable housing the horse Howmuchdoyouloveme trained by Karakatsanis’ son Con before it ran last Saturday.
The stewards observed Con Karakatsanis, his father, Victorian trainer Pat Cannon and another man in conversation in the stable.
In evidence, the stewards said that as Con Karakatsanis left the premises he allegedly told the others to “call me if there’s any trouble” and was attempting to lock the gate to the stable yard when they intervened.
They said Karakatsanis then signalled to the others to warn them of the stewards’ presence.
An inspection of the box containing Howmuchdoyouloveme revealed the “naso-gastric” tubing equipment.
Tony Karakatsanis admitted he put the equipment there and that it was used for administering saline solutions and other legal treatments to the horse.
But it is illegal to administer any such treatment on the day a horse races.
Tony Karakatsanis said the tubing equipment and the powders had been prepared for use after the race and that he had only put the bag containing them into the horse’s stall in the belief that it contained hay.
“I was completely shocked at what was in the bag,” he said.
Bailey said it was inconceivable that he could make such a mistake.
“We are in this position because you don’t know the difference between a bag of hay and a bag of tubing gear,” he said.
Con Karakatsanis told the inquiry he hadn’t signalled to his father and the others and had left the stable to go to the racecourse.
He said the horse was to follow a few minutes behind him in the care of his father and Cannon.
His father told the inquiry he wouldn’t have had time to administer anything to the horse through the naso-gastric tube, that he hadn’t prepared any water in which to mix the powders.
He questioned the stewards’ behaviour, saying that if they had believed he intended to tube the horse, they should have waited a few minutes and caught him red-handed.
“If it was a performance-enhancing drench I would have been mixing it with hot water,” he said.
“Drenching” or tubing a horse is a common and permitted practice after it races or after strong exercise to assist in rehydration.
It can also be used to administer illegal substances to improve performance.
The stewards adjourned the inquiry to a date to to be fixed without laying charges.