Randwick trainer John O'Shea is free to continue training after stewards slapped him with a $30,000 penalty for his involvement in the Godolphin strangles affair.
O'Shea was found guilty by stewards of having knowledge Polemic was infected with the highly contagious upper respiratory tract infection and providing false and/or misleading evidence to stewards.
At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, O'Shea's legal counsel produced "a number of notable references provided from Mr John Messara AM, Mr Ron Finemore AO and Mr Richard Pegum, attesting to Mr O'Shea's good character".
When considering penalty stewards also took into account "a statement provided by Mr O'Shea detailing his personal and professional circumstances and a recognition that the matter 'could have been handled better'".
O'Shea was fined $10,000 for the charge under Australian rule of racing AR 175(I) - of being a party to (former Godolphin Australia managing director) Mr (Henry) Plumptre committing a breach of AR64K(2) for not reporting as soon as possible by the quickest means of communication available to Racing NSW, the Principal Racing Authority in NSW, that the racehorse Polemic was confirmed as being infected with the notifiable disease or condition strangles as required by AR64K(2) when he became aware that the racehorse Polemic was so infected, on 4 August 2016.
"The Stewards agree with the submissions of Mr (Matthew) Stirling (O'Shea's legal counsel) relative to the approach to be taken when considering Mr O'Shea's offence under this rule, specifically that Mr Plumptre was charged as the principal offender and Mr O'Shea was party to that offence," the stewards report read.
"The Stewards found that Mr Plumptre should be fined $20,000, which was reduced to $15,000 having regard to the established principal of a 25% reduction for his guilty plea and co-operation with the Stewards. In Mr O'Shea's case the Stewards have a not guilty plea."
He was fined a further $20,000 for the charge under Australian rule of racing AR 175 (g) - of providing false and/or misleading evidence at a Stewards interview on 16 June 2017 and Stewards inquiry on 26 June 2017 relative to his knowledge that Polemic was confirmed as having tested positive to the notifiable disease or condition strangles.
"Disqualification or suspension of licence have been a well-established punishment for serious breaches of the AR175(g) that impact upon the integrity of racing," the stewards report read.
"Mr (Matthew) Stirling (O'Shea's legal counsel) submitted that a period of disqualification or suspension was not appropriate in this case, as Mr O'Shea's offending was of a "moderate kind" for the following reasons;
The level of materiality of Mr O'Shea's evidence, given that he admitted that he suspected that Polemic had strangles (with that suspicion being enough for him to be caught by AR64K(2), which reads "A person who…suspects or should reasonably suspect [that a horse] is infected with a notifiable disease or condition";
Mr O'Shea's false and/or misleading evidence had no real consequence for the investigation, either in relation to him, other licensed persons, or others subject of the inquiry;
The offence that was being concealed was not of the more serious kind that impacts upon the integrity of racing having regard to precedent penalties.
"In addition to the above, Mr Stirling raised a number of other factors that he maintained should be taken into account in mitigation, including Mr O'Shea's longstanding good record of over 20 years in the racing industry and his personal and professional circumstances."
The stewards conclusion to the penalty was, "The Stewards determine that a fine is the appropriate penalty in respect to this charge, having regard to the mitigating factors. The Stewards are, however, of the opinion that such fine must still send an appropriate message as detailed in the reasons for decision of Smith above. Accordingly, Mr O'Shea is fined the sum of $20,000.
"In issuing a fine as opposed to a period of suspension or disqualification, the Stewards emphasise that they consider that starting point for a penalty for a breach of this rule, particularly where it impacts significantly upon the integrity of racing and the ability of the Stewards to investigate and prosecute breaches of the Rules of Racing, is a period of disqualification or suspension and this decision should not be considered as a precedent for matters of that kind."
O'Shea was advised of his rights of appeal.