Australian Trainer Facing Possible Criminal Charges After Tubing Horse

by | 07.06.2013 | 12:01pm

Trainer Greg McFarlane is facing a minimum 12-month ban from the Australian Racing Board and a possible decade-long imprisonment after he was caught stomach tubing runner Ferocimo before a stakes race on Saturday.

McFarlane admitted that his actions were “dumb” and “stupid” after he was caught with the tubing equipment. Penalties for the practice were increased earlier this year thanks to the NSW Crimes Act due to its potential influence on a betting event.

Trainer Cody Morgan was the first horseman to be charged under the new rules earlier this year.

McFarlane initially denied that he had completed the process of tubing the horse, but officials found the horse with the hose up its nose and a funnel and bucket with fluid in the stall. McFarlane was also discovered to have white powder in a plastic bag in his pocket. Stewards took blood from Ferocimo to test his TC02 levels.

A date and time for McFarlane's hearing on the matter have not yet been set.

Read more at RaceNet

  • Tinky

    McFarlane admitted that his actions were “dumb” and “stupid” after he was caught…

    Yes, criminals INVARIABLY feel stupid when they are caught.

  • betterthannothing

    A possible 12-month ban and a decade-long imprisonment! At least, in New South Wales it is a CRIME to milkshake a horse and commit an act that has the potential to influence a betting event. The Australia Racing Board and NSW are serious about protecting gamblers. When will we see the equivalent of a NSW Crimes Act with serious teeth in the US?

    Thankfully, Greg McFarlane inserted his tube into the right pipe and didn’t kill Ferocimo.

    What about horse abuse? Horses need as much protection against abuse as gamblers need against “potential influence on a betting event”. Dopers are criminals who also abuse horses. Doping and abuse should be punished equally hard.

  • Beach

    Believe me, I don’t discount the competent vets out there with integrity, but who do you think taught the trainer to tube the horse?!! Probably a vet, or a vet tech with training. That’s not something you just walk into a stall and do…I’ve tubed humans, so I have a working knowledge of “tubing”. But I have never tubed a horse, and would have to be supervised and taught at first.

    Vets, please be careful who you teach to CHEAT…

    Tubing is never comfortable…it’s one thing if you have to do it NECESSARILY for a horse or human with significant GI issues, colic, etc. But doing it just for racing performance is appalling. And whether or not it works for performance enhancement is questionable…how would you feel if you gave yourself a nice combination of baking soda and water, etc., then ran a mile at top speed? Perhaps eventually you would reduce lactic acid buildup in your muscles, but you also might first give yourself an impressive case of gas–try running with that. DUH…

    • Mr. Mo

      It’s never been proven to reduce lactic acid build up or inhance performance unless there is an underlying condition (ulcer’s) even then there is considerable “acid bounce” that is more detrimental than the original condition. there are better things to use that are designed to heal ulcers instead of mask the issue and other long term affects. but these guys (vet’s included) contine to use these outdated and useless/hazordious cures ?? instead of updating there knowledge. makes me wonder how some of these clowns ever got through the chem part of there schooling

      • Beach

        Oh, giving it for ulcers is an entirely different story. And if it is given for ulcers, I’d guess it can’t be given around race time, and/or I hope the horse doesn’t have to race with ulcers.

        Makes sense–PEOPLE also tend to get “rebound hyperacidity” from “remedies” like Tums which really aren’t “remedies”; they’re more temporary symptom relief.

        • Mr. Mo

          it can also mess with the potassium/calcium channel as well as other metobolic functions. the hazards are the alot the same as for humans alcalosis and all. a large percentage of horses in all types of compition have gastric issues to some extent. high carb diets, consintrated feeds and the like. horses evolved over time to be contionious browsers. our twice a day feeding is unnatural. in alot of respets equids are remarkably simular to humans in many of physological responses. there was a study some years ago that had strong validity that horses feel pain in much the same fassion as humans

          • Beach

            Yes, and depending on the activity I would be vigilant re: electrolyte imbalance in horses, because their normal pulse rate is so slow. Physiologically, when the electrical spaces between beats are so long, it stands to reason that there’s more time there for things to get fouled up. This can also happen to humans, who can have weird(and sometimes fatal) “electrical” activity in the cardiac recovery phase AFTER exercise, not even necessarily DURING. Doctors see it all the time during stress testing; and, even in the presence of “normal” electrolyte balance, I for one wonder if this is not the reason for a lot of horse sudden cardiac deaths, too–especially when people are playing games with drugs that they should not be playing games with.

    • Larry Ensor

      No disrespect but “tubing” a horse is really not that complicated. Nor is it for most mammals. Any competent horsemen should be able to perform this procedure in an emergency or when needed. And it is, can be as simple as walking in a stall for most competent horsemen. If I had to call in a vet to perform every “low skilled” treatment needed I would have gone broke a long time ago. Before the internet there we all had reference books that explain the procedure in detail. Along with just about anything needed in an emergency. There are plenty of places where a vet is not around the corner and if one is going to be working with horses or livestock in general they better have a working knowledge of emergency care.
      Again no disrespect but to say Vets should be careful who they teach something to because if maybe used for nefarious purposes is a bit silly and naïve.
      “And whether or not it works for performance enhancement is questionable”
      I do not have any direct experience but my research and accounts from unnamed others feel very strongly that it can have a dramatic effect when done properly.
      As a life long expert skier, mountain climber, rock climber etc. I know from direct experience the effects of lactic acid build up has on ones performance. If you were ever on the sharp end of a rope on a very long and taxing rock climb with a long “run out” with dodgy protection behind you when it hits you’d wish you’d been “milk shaked ”
      I found out a long time ago that certain foods helps extend the time before it hits.
      All humans and horses have a certain “resistance” to its onset. It is my understanding this can not be changed. No matter how much training one does. It is one of the factors that separates the very good from the elite.
      The concoction has more to it then just baking soda and water. And the timing has to be pretty exact. For which most are just guessing at both. A simple internet search explains in detail and not just for horses.
      For the record I am not condoning the use of in this case or any. Just correcting what is IMO misinformation.

      • Roisin

        With all due respect you make it sound like “no big deal”. Well it is a big deal on many levels !

        • Larry Ensor

          “Stomach tubing” is not a big deal. Milk Shaking a horse is a big deal. IMO that’s a given. I have posted in great detail the possible “cause and effect” and how it can lead to a catastrophic break down in past years on the PR. A lot of people think that just because the concoction is made with “benign” things how bad can it be. Manipulating a horse’s biochemical balance is playing a dangerous game. For the horse and rider. Especially considering those that do this are just “guessing” at the amounts to use. As I said in my previous post. I am on record going back a number of years using my real name that the penalties for such acts are shamefully inadequate. I have asked a number of times over the years why haven’t the Feds taken action. It is or should be a crime not only to the horse and rider but from a legal stand point it is fraud on the betting, consumer. The fact that most races are bet “across state lines” it is or should be a Federal offense. With very stiff penalties.

      • Beach

        “It is one of the factors that separates the very good from the elite.”

        And right there you hit on what sportsmanship really is, without milkshaking or other forms of cheating. Secretariat, e.g., was “elite” because he was Secretariat, not because he had a “milkshake” down his throat.

        I don’t take any offense at your explanations. It was not my intent to imply that such a concoction is simply “baking soda and water”–I don’t know what’s in it.

        For humans at least, the “lactic acid buildup” can also be electrolyte depletion and when I played competitive field hockey, we got around it with significant training and a good bit of bananas/orange juice and Gatorade in the diet. Of course, this can only be done in people with normal kidneys which will aid in maintaining electrolyte balance.

        Tubing a person is also not very complicated as long as the person’s anatomy is largely “normal”(nostrils and throats, e.g. can vary in size; of course for this purpose, the larger, the better), but it does help to be taught to do it, rather than just reading it out of a book.

        I still think vets and vet techs should be careful who they teach to do what.

        • Larry Ensor

          I hear what you are saying and I am glad that you did not take my comments as a “personal attack” or out of context. IME horses by and large don’t get too upset with the procedure mainly because they are not humans. The have no comprehension of what is going on. Humans have the ability and imagination to make it out to be much more then it is. If that makes sense. Like having ones teeth drilled. Yes I feel no pain due to the “local” but I can still hear the drill and I “know” what it’s doing. White knuckles.

          “For humans at least, the “lactic acid buildup” can also be electrolyte depletion and when I played competitive field hockey, we got around it with significant training and a good bit of bananas/orange juice and Gatorade in the diet.”

          As an amateur athlete and a pretty darn good one I agree to a certain extent. As I stated in my previous post no amount of training, style of training etc will change an individuals, horse or human’s resistance to lactic acid buildup. It is what is when you are born. This is very well documented. As you and I pointed out it’s one of the things that separates the very good from the elite.
          As to electrolyte imbalance it’s not the same in horses as it is in human for the most part. As explained to me by several top Vets that I have worked with. They feel too many fixate on this. Proper feeding and hay is all they really need. I can go into greater detail but I am not being paid to do so and we are digressing.
          I love you banana point. Before Gator Aid or other such things were available in powder form I carried bananas in my back pack. Though the got kind of nasty after a couple of days. I know when I am low on potassium when I start craving them. I like them but not as a rule.

          • Beach

            Please bear in mind that in my first comment re: milkshaking I did say “baking soda/water, etc.” with the “etc.” being key to what else is in it(possibly harmful stuff).

            If you don’t like bananas, try other potassium-rich foods; search for these via Google or a nutrition book. We previously used orange juice but that was when I was younger and the acid was not so hard on the stomach, but it does come in a reduced-acid “preparation”. If you need it to be stored outside the refrigerator or cooler, like in a backpack, see if you can get it in the form of sealed children’s juice boxes–in the drinks/water section of the grocery store; for some reason in my store the juice boxes are near the cookies and crackers, probably to check the “kids’ snacks” block. :-) And of course, it pays to know you have normal kidney function to maintain your electrolyte balance, and I’d presume that with all the exercise you undergo, you don’t have to worry about counting all the carbs in the dietary potassium supplements!! (Bananas, OJ, very “carby”…)

            Re: tubing the horse, he/she may not know or care what is going on but tubing anything can be uncomfortable for the “patient”. I think you’re in agreement with me here anyway, Mr. Ensor, in that I wouldn’t want to do it to the horse unless I had to, and certainly not to cheat. Ugh…

          • Larry Ensor

            Enjoyed. Yes, we are in agreement. Re bananas my somewhat off topic comments of personal experience go back to the late 60’s and 70s long when climbing, hiking etc, were not “main stream” activities and not “catered” to by the market. You had to carry what was available. No a days there are plenty of light weight alternatives.

  • Louisbille

    Hmm, I wonder how many US trainers would chance an overage of an allowed medication if a decade in prison was the punishment? My first reaction was ‘that’s a little much’ but as a commenter here remarked, this is willfully trying to influence the outcome of a betting event that harms the general public AND the industry at large. Book ’em.

    • Performance Genetics

      The law allows for up to 10 years imprisonment. There is quite a bit of leeway for racing administrators to use judgement and set consistent punishments. As with all these types of laws, the ones that aren’t cheating are silent as it doesn’t really concern them, while those that are cheating think that its too harsh!

      • circusticket

        The law also says you’re innocent until proven guilty. Just because someone thinks the penalty is too harsh doesn’t make them guilty.

        • betterthannothing

          The guy was caught with the smoking gun down his horse’s stomach (thankfully not his lungs).

    • 4Bellwether666

      Don’t think so when in the USA you can get 10 years for growing a weed???…

  • Richard C

    There are more than a few trainers in North America who have just erased this racing jurisdiction for possible future employment opportunities.

  • jttf

    so how many american trainers should be in prison ?

    • DawnP

      Probably more than many prisons can hold–they’re overcrowded as it is!

    • 4Bellwether666

      A BUNCH!!!…ty…

  • 4Bellwether666

    You folks can be absurd…

  • McGov

    Can you imagine if this was a crime throughout North America? And why shouldn’t it be a crime??
    I think we might see just a tad less cheating if we start calling the cheaters what they really are: CRIMINALS.

    • 4Bellwether666

      Ain’t no way to delay that trouble coming every day for race fixing vets/ trainers and Animal Abuser’s…Book It!!!…

  • Larry Ensor

    Maureen, please read what I wrote a bit more closely. Because what you linked to basically backs up what I wrote. Yes, humans and horses can be trained, conditioned so as reach the individuals highest resistance level. But no higher no matter how much the individual trains. This is “preset” at birth. I don’t have the time nor inclination to dig up the research that is generally excepted as conclusive. The “drills” the article talks about have been in use for decades.
    In my day I was considered an exceptional rock climber long before it became a “fad” sport. I did not train any where near the level that most of my climbing partners and friends did.
    But I could pull off 5-10s, which was the highest level at that time, with hardly breaking a sweat. And it annoyed the heck out of my climbing friends who know I was a “loafer” compared to the efforts they made. Granted, I was/am very fortunate to have been born with other natural skills. I could carry well over my body weight in my teens up very long and difficult mountains. And I spent far more time in bars and at concerts, chasing women then I did running mile after mile or logging many hours in the gym.
    I have found the same to be true with horses. Especially Steeplechase horses that are racing 3 to 4 miles where lactic acid build up comes into play far more then with flat horses. Even at 57 I have no problem galloping strong horses 3 miles. Most days. I rode my first jump race at 54 finishing 3rd against much younger riders. Had I put the time in to build up my anaerobic conditioning I would have won for fun. But I was on a very good horse that all I really had to do was stay on and not go off course. Stress plays an important role in both humans and horses. Which for anyone that has worked with lots of horses regardless of the discipline knows is a very difficult thing to over come. Not much different in humans either.
    All things being equal I stand by what I wrote. Natural ability and a natural resistance to lactic acid buildup is what separates the very good from the elite.
    Yes, I completely understand how electrolyte imbalance would be of concern with endurance horses. But this is a racehorse forum so I didn’t really see the need to bring that up.

    • Beach

      Yes, having been a competitive athlete too, this is totally “anecdotal data” and I am not going to take the time to look it all up–but, I also believe that athletic ability and/or possibly lactic acid buildup potential is something that mammals are born with or without–but to a degree, they can be positively influenced with training and dietary modifications. IMHO, if any athlete(human) in this case, tries to compete without a potassium-rich diet, he/she is asking for cramps, trouble, and thus a decreased aerobic capacity.

  • Mr. Moo

    WHAT ???
    what where you drinking when you dreamed that up ?
    seen it had, to IV electrolite horse after a race, collapsed on the track vanned of. potassium off the chart electrolites so out of whack the horse could not perspire and cool (lasix root cause)
    sufice it to say ….you dont know what the hell your talking about

    • Larry Ensor

      No, I think you don’t really know what your are talking about. And there is no need to be rude to get your point across. Yes, what you saw can and does happen but it has been my experience the far more the exception then the norm. And I am backed up by some top vet in their field or research on this subject. Was this your horse? If not how are you privy to the information you have stated? For me or others to take you seriously why don’t you use your real name and give us some back ground information to back up your expertise?
      Lasix can and will cause havoc on a horse’s biochemical system. Especially when “over dosed” on a very hot and humid day. Horses that are being looked after and trained by competent people rarely have electrolyte imbalance issues. It is my understanding based on conversations with some very respected vets that more horses have problems with people being overly concerned and overly sublimating

      • Mr. Moo

        my horse, my barn
        i routinly pull blood and send for cbc and bun tests at severial stages during training to establish base lines for each horse and yes there are mesurable differences as training progresses and quite quantifiable even after a 2 min 100 percent effort endurance riding is a largly arobic metabolism 100 perrcent effort is a mix of arobic and anarobic metabolism. different set of byproducts are the result of the two base types

        so having said that and before i continue
        how many horses do you own ?
        how many are in your care on a day to day bassis ?
        how many times have you acompinied a horse to the test barn ?
        how many have you personaly seen a collaps close up and personal

        reading about is vs actualy doing are two different things

        • cbc shows only red blood cell count, white blood cell count, hemoglobin levels, hematocrit (proportion of red blood cells to plasma) and platelet levels. Which may or may not indicate problems. To measure electrolyte levels you need a blood chemistry test which is different. Bun tests are for kidney function.

        • Larry Ensor

          “my horse, my barn” Fair enough. Adds a lot of credibility to your comments.

          Been very busy and haven’t had a chance to check back on this. This thread has run its course but for the record;
          At the moment we over 35 Tbs. Mares, foals, yearlings, 2 year olds, a couple of 3 year olds getting ready to the track, steeplechase horses, fox hunters, show/sport horses. We had 7 at the track all of which were bred, raised, broke and trained by me until they were sent to the track. Took 2 back to the farm just didn’t show enough other then possibly being cheap claimers. No interest running those types. I am licensed Steeplechase trainer and ride a race from time to time. Not if I want the horse to win. Being able to break, gallop and ride jump races adds a lot to training them IMO. Grew up with Thoroughbreds and in the business of. I don’t know everything, nobody does but I know a lot and pretty good at what I do. The trainers we have used are very complimentary when they get our horses. They generally out run their pedigrees. So I guess we are doing most things right.
          I am in PA we have very hot and humid summers so yes I am well aware of electrolyte imbalance can cause. But it is rarely an issue. And have never had a horse over jumps or on the flat have any issues. Nor when I was grooming in the 70s. Can it happen absolutely but as I said IMO it is far more the exception then the norm. Your horse may have had other things going on that were difficult to pick up on and or is a “special case” that you are not aware of until it happened. Good luck hope it doesn’t happen again.

    • And how often have you seen that? Could it possibly have been the result of too many drugs??? Talk to a vet or do some research online – healthy racehorses do not need electrolytes.

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