September 8, 2020 — 4.15pm
A NSW racehorse trainer has been banned for three years after two retired thoroughbreds he thought he was re-homing for equine purposes were slaughtered by a third party.
Wagga Wagga-based Trevor Sutherland was handed the penalty at a stewards inquiry on Tuesday after his former gallopers Rozzi and Redfu were sent to the property of registered owner Donnchadh Brown.
Sutherland last month had his licence suspended by Racing NSW for an alleged breach of animal welfare rules despite the leading southern districts trainer claiming he "unknowingly and unintentionally" sent the horses to another person where they were euthanised.
Racing NSW heard evidence Rozzi and Redfu were sent to Brown in April. He had initially tried to retrain them for hunting purposes, but they couldn't be assimilated with other animals he had on the property and asked another person to euthanise them.
Sutherland said he had no idea of Brown's plans to slaughter the horses and lodged a not guilty plea when answering a charge that Redfu and Rozzi would be disposed of in contravention of the rules of racing. He has already lodged an appeal against the decision.
He pleaded guilty to a further charge of having failed to report to Racing Australia by lodging the relevant death notification for racehorse "Bless You Toby". The horse was found dead on July 7.
Stewards allege six days later he lodged a stable return claiming "Bless You Toby" was spelling at a property near Yass.
Sutherland's solicitor Paul O'Sullivan argued, "the stewards' decision [regarding the racehorse slaughter] was contrary to [Tuesday's] evidence".
"An appeal against guilt and severity was lodged immediately and I welcome an early appeal," he said.
"Redfu" banked $8000 in prize money from just the one win in a maiden at a picnic meeting while "Rozzi" finished her career winless from seven starts.
Brown pleaded guilty to slaughtering Redfu, Rozzi and two other horses, Hangin With Willy and Witchblade, on or around July. He was disqualified for a period of four years.
Racehorse trainers are required to provide notification of where retired thoroughbreds are sent after their racetrack days are finished.
The regulator has conducted hundreds of visits to check on ex-racehorses as part of its animal welfare policy, which is among the strictest in the world.
The Australian thoroughbred industry is grappling with another animal welfare issue after Racing Victoria broke ranks with the other states on Monday to publicly declare their desire for whip rules to be stiffened from January.
It wants the riding crop to eventually be used for safety-only purposes.
The call, on the eve of Melbourne's spring carnival, caught Racing Australia, who has been working on a months-long project regarding whip reform, by surprise and drew strong condemnation from the Australian Jockeys Association.