The Everest slot of Galaxy winner In Her Time is under a cloud after her trainer Ben Smith was suspended by Racing NSW stewards for providing false evidence and refusing to give evidence following a stable raid on Tuesday.
Tabcorp gave In Her Time its slot in the $13 million race, which it sponsors, and part of the package was the young trainer on the rise.
However, Smith’s career appears to be in tatters after stewards raided his stable following advice of two swab irregularities from horses trained by him. They found unlabelled bottles in his stable and home. Smith at first refused in part to co-operate with the stewards inquiry.
He later admited to giving false evidence.
It remains unclear who will train In Her Time or if there will a change, but Tabcorp wasn’t rushing to make any decision on the mare's Everest future.
“We are monitoring the issue. TAB’s Everest arrangements are with In Her Time’s owner, Peter Brown,” a TAB spokesman said. “ We respect the rules of racing. Integrity is paramount for us and we will liaise with Peter on the next steps.”
Brown didn’t want to make any comment on Tuesday until the facts in the case became clear.
In Her Time was due to have a gallop between races at the Newcastle Cup meeting on Friday but that will not go ahead now. The TAB deleted information about the gallop from its social media on Tuesday.
The bombshell came on the same afternoon that the Australian Turf Club confirmed boom sprinter Nature Strip would run in its slot in The Everest at Randwick on October 13.
Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said Smith would be given due process in the continuing inquiry and said it had no effect on the image of The Everest.
Racing NSW stewards acted quickly against Smith when stewards found unlabelled bottles in his stable and home during Tuesday's raids. The trainer, who rose to prominence during the autumn as In Her Time and then El Dorado Dreaming won group 1s, was issued two charges and others could follow if the b-samples of his two horses return irregularities.
The bottles were seized by stewards and sent for testing. Smith’s phone and computer were also taken for forensic imaging.
He initially gave stewards false evidence, which he pleaded guilty to when the inquiry was opened, and then refused to give the name or names of those who supplied the bottles to him.
Both charges have in the past led to disqualification for licence persons.
Chief steward Marc Van Gestel acted on Australian rule of racing 8(z) in suspending Smith, who was to have Sires Produce Stakes winner El Dorado Dreaming in the Tea Rose Stakes on Saturday.
“Given the situation it would pose an unacceptable risk to, and could be prejudicial to the image and integrity of the racing,” Van Gestel said. “He is suspended until such time as we can continue the inquiry.”
Smith applied for a stay of proceeding of his suspension on Tuesday night and he did not return Fairfax Media’s phone calls.
Meanwhile, the ATC has secured Nature Strip, which broke the Moonee Valley 1000m track record on Saturday, for its Everest slot after it passed a vet check on Tuesday.
“We are delighted to bring another dimension to the TAB Everest with a sprinter of the promise of Nature Strip,’’ ATC director Phil Morley said.
“ATC had great success with the Darren Weir stable in last year’s TAB Everest and we again look forward to joining with him to promote our racing and the world’s richest race on turf.
“Nature Strip broke a course record at his most recent win and will add an X-factor to the field.
“We believe Nature Strip is an excellent winning chance and will add to the quality and character of the race.’’
In other Everest news, one of the world’s best jockeys, Ryan Moore, will make the trip to Australia to ride the Aidan O'Brien-trained US Navy Flag in the race.