California-based trainer Ben Cecil has been fined HK$50,000 (about US$6,410) by Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards as a result of Falcon Flight testing positive for a prohibited substance prior to Sunday's Hong Kong International Cup. Falcon Flight was scratched from the race after a urine test was positive for the presence of Methylprednisolone.
According to the ruling, the HKJC stewards reached the decision to fine Cecil but take no further action after a hearing in which Cecil, HKJC senior racing chemist Dr. T. S. M. Wan and HKJC senior veterinary surgeon Dr. K. L. Watkins.
In his testimony to the stewards, Cecil said his assistant trainer informed him that Falcon Flight had been treated with the medication in late November, which would have resulted in the positive test upon arrival in Hong Kong. "Mr. Cecil was emphatic he was not aware the treatment had taken place" and "did put strongly in mitigation that had he been made aware before the declaration time of the presence of a prohibited substance in Falcon Flight, he would not have declared the horse to run."
While expressing regret for the incident, Cecil acknowledged that he was fully responsible as the trainer of record for Falcon Flight.
"After taking full account of all the evidence, the submissions made by Mr. Cecil and particularly his frankness and general demeanor today, it was decided that he be fined $50,000," the stewards report stated.
Meanwhile, HKJC stewards will reportedly look review the circumstances surrounding the impressive victory by Sunline in the Hong Kong Mile. According to the Australian Associated Press, the stewards will look into comments made by winning rider Greg Childs to the Sydney Morning Herald.
According to the newspaper, Childs said he and jockey Justin Sheehan, aboard eventual third-place finisher Adam, discussed strategy prior to the race.
"I spoke to Justin and said, 'Look, we can't cut each others throats and challenge for the lead'," the Morning Herald
quoted Childs. "Justin agreed. I just told him to follow me. He knew Adam wouldn't have been able to beat Sunline. She is world class, but it worked out perfectly for everyone."
According to the AAP, HKJC deputy chief steward Jamie Stier said, "We would not want jockeys colluding before a race. It's not permissible."
Stewards had already taken action against Sheehan for his ride on Adam, suspending him until Jan. 4 for crowding during the race, according to Sportling Life