• New Zealand Trainer Dunn Done in by Caffeine Addict Horses

    If we were fined every time we took a swig of coffee before starting to write, writing would be a breakeven proposition at best.

    The connection between word output and caffeine is undeniable. We have yet to try cobalt as a way to get back into the swing of things at the beginning of the week, unless someone has slipped us some without our knowledge.

    Without doubt, caffeine has a noticeable impact on performance, so horses are not allowed to use it. Look around next time you go to the track. There are no Starbucks inside the paddock.

    Therefore, when South Auckland and North Canterbury trainer Robert Dunn’s horses returned positive swabs for the presence of caffeine in their systems, Dunn was fined $7,000. Stewards also fined Dunn’ son John, who oversees the horses that tested positive for caffeine, the identical $7,000 amount.

    We have not been on the inside of a Starbucks for some time, but our recollection seems to be that $14,000 would buy enough mocha lattes for an entire stable.

    The downside for the trainers is that their three horses, Billy Badger, Hayden’s Meddle and Rishi, were stripped of four wins, two by Badger and one each by the two others. The three have also been forced to switch to decaf.

    The Racing Integrity Unit, apparently under the influence of zero stimulants, spent eight months investigating the test results before leveling charges against the Dunn’s in February.

    As is common, Dunn’s defense rested on the claim that an outside agency had slipped the horses the illegal stimulant. Looking into that is what took the RIU so long to arrive at its conclusion.

    Caffeine is one of the easier substances to detect, however, and Dunn and his son must have been aware of this, so it is hard to comprehend what they were thinking if they indeed did slip some caffeine into the feed at their stables. The Dunns pled guilty without much delay.

    Dunn is one of the most successful trainers of trotters in New Zealand, but he has three black marks on his record from pervious substance rules violations.