Five months after More Joyous ran her last race, the controversy over her unplaced performance in the All Aged Stakes continued in Sydney on Friday.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse appeared before the Racing NSW Appeal Panel to fight her convictions and fines for failing to report a condition which could affect the mare’s performance leading into two races during the autumn.
After hearing the stewards’ case and submissions from Waterhouse’s counsel, the Appeal panel reserved its decision.
Counsel for Waterhouse, Stephen Free, said the trainer’s judgment on a horse’s health had to be respected.
“It is subject to the judgment of the trainer,” Free said.
“The trainer is entitled to take advice and it requires the trainer to make a judgment call.”
Chief steward Ray Murrihy told the panel there were 10 key indicators which should have prompted Waterhouse to report More Joyous had a sore neck in the lead-up to the All Aged Stakes on April 27 in which the mare ran second last.
The mare’s owner John Singleton launched a public tirade against the trainer on race day, sacking her on television and prompting a high-profile inquiry.
During that inquiry, it emerged More Joyous had a foot abscess leading into her previous start, the Queen Of The Turf Stakes on April 6, in which she ran an unlucky fifth.
Murrihy said the mare had been lame for five of the first eight days leading into the Queen Of The Turf and had not worked in her usual manner but had instead been taken to the swimming pool and Botany Bay.
“This is not a complicated case,” he said.
“Rule 140 A seeks transparency and it is the responsibility of the trainer to report any condition that might affect it.
“What Mrs Waterhouse produced was sleight of hand. She didn’t show the horse in public.”
Free countered by saying it was the trainer’s position that by the Wednesday before the race when acceptances were taken, More Joyous was on the mend and had gone from grade 2/5 lameness to 1/5 with regular poulticing.
“By Wednesday it was clear the horse was improving and the treatment was taking effect,” Free said.
“Mrs Waterhouse is the trainer of the horse and looking ahead to Saturday, she knew the response indicated the horse would be fine on the day of the race.”
Murrihy said it was the stewards’ position there must be transparency and punters should be informed so they could make up their own minds.
The tensions between Singleton and his long-time trainer Waterhouse began almost a year ago when Waterhouse selected barrier 11 for More Joyous in the Cox Plate against the owner’s instructions.
Singleton withdrew many of his horses from the stable in the coming months and took the last of them out the day after the All Aged Stakes.
More Joyous is now in England where she has tested in-foal to champion racehorse Frankel.