RACEHORSES IN POISON SCARE
By ADAM HICKS
THE suspected poisoning of four racehorses has led to a security upgrade of the stables at Lismore Turf Club.
As the poisoning allegations surfaced this week, Turf Club officials confirmed that work was under way to divide the stables into four compounds so trainers could ensure their horses were safe from outside interference.
The move comes after four horses part-owned by Kevin Cocciola and trained by Owen Glue were removed from the stables on course last year after suddenly falling seriously ill.
Police confirmed they were called to investigate and said their enquiries were continuing.
Cocciola, Glue and the veterinarian who treated the gallopers all declined this week to speak to The Northern Star about the incident.
Lismore Turf Club secretary-manager Michael Timbrell said the poisoning allegations had not been proved but confirmed there was talk among the Lismore racing fraternity that foul play was involved.
“Just before the equine influenza struck, four horses became very sick all at once,” he said.
“A vet looked at them and in his opinion they had been administered a poisonous substance.
“We can’t allow these accusations to be thrown around.
“A trainer is responsible for the security of their own horses and we couldn’t offer that. That’s why we are doing all this work.”
“That’s what started the ball rolling for us to look at how we could divide the stables successfully so we could offer trainers their own area; secure blocks that only they have access to.”
All of the horses have recovered and filly Joe Eva, which nearly died, has come back to win its last two starts.
Another horse involved was Capilano Road, otherwise known as Saleyards, who sprang into the public eye as a foal adopted by a surrogate mother in 2001.
Timbrell said the club’s reaction to the incident was delayed by the EI outbreak and the subsequent lockdown that prevented horses from being transported.
“All the horses had to be removed before work could begin,” he said.
“At the time ... there were five trainers (on-course) and they only had small numbers of horses.”
Northern Rivers chief steward Bill Fanning welcomed the security upgrade.
“The job had to be done,” Fanning said.
“The way the stables were set up was very much a community environment which is not conducive to security measures being available to trainers.”
Fanning also said while he had heard there were allegations, he was not aware of the incident being reported to stewards
Timbrell said the club would push on with the upgrade despite complaints from some trainers.
“Some trainers are upset because they know they’ll have to reapply to lease stables,” he said.
“The club is going to put stricter conditions on those leases to tidy up a lack of organisation that has been prevalent at those stables in the past.
“We are in the process of drawing up conditions of new leases and they’ll be available in the next two weeks.