by Brad Davidson, The Daily Telegraph
STEWARDS have charged Gai Waterhouse and co-trainer Adrian Bott with conduct prejudicial to the image of racing in what Waterhouse described as "incredibly severe, unnecessary and certainly unfair”.
Waterhouse and Bott were charged with rule AR175 (a), namely conduct prejudicial to the image and/or interests of racing, after stewards established three of the stable's racehorses English, Serena Bay and Debonairly did not conduct trackwork on the Randwick course proper on April 4 as programmed at the Breakfast With The Stars function.
They were substituted by three other horses - Fabrizio, Sort After and Stampede - with those three horses carrying the same colours as the nominated horses.
Global Glamour was the only runner from the stable scheduled to work on the course proper that did so on April 4.
Waterhouse was heavily critical of the charge and sought an adjournment, which was granted, to seek legal advice.
"To think you called us in today over this I find it unacceptable, so incredibly severe, unnecessary and certainly unfair,” Waterhouse said.
"I can't believe you didn't just give us a warning.”
Waterhouse insists she had planned to work English, Serena Bay and Debonairly as scheduled until speaking to her foreman earlier that morning.
"We are very apologetic. We weren't there trying to deceive anyone,” Waterhouse pleaded to stewards.
"There was no ulterior motive or nothing sinister and we were not trying to do the wrong thing.
"When I spoke to my foreman at 3.20am one of them Serena Bay had (muscle enzymes) so I thought it was best not to work her, the second one Debonairly had a sore foot so she was not able to gallop and English hadn't recovered fully from a sore eye and I thought she would be fine to work (originally).
"(It all happened in) a very short space of time. We had our slots and as we have done on many, many other occasions as I'm sure other trainers have done we used our slots ... so the show could go on.
"We didn't want to let people down.”
Waterhouse insisted sending the incorrect horses out rather than three less horses galloping that morning was a better result for the public and media who had come out to watch to which the stewards strongly detested.
Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel said "transparency and integrity is at the forefront of the industry” and felt he had no other choice but to issue the charge.
Van Gestel quizzed Waterhouse on why the three incorrect horses wore the silks of the horses they were replacing to which Waterhouse said "they didn't think” and were busy "working 150 horses”.
Waterhouse took offence to stewards using the word 'substitute' to describe the three horses that worked in place of English, Serena Bay and Debonairly.
"We haven't substituted anything- there was no race, no prizemoney,” she said.
"Substituting (suggests) this is a serious offence. This is not a very serious offence and it was not in a trial or race.”
Bott referred to a tweet by the Australian Turf Club on the morning of the Breakfast With The Stars function that named Fabrizio galloping on the course proper as evidence that some knew it was Fabrizio and not the horse he replaced, Debonairly.