Coping and Doping
Horse racing have been both charmed and appalled by different historical facts and findings.
Some of the people involved in the dark side, no matter they are royal or civilians by their less savoury shadows on characteristics.
They were believed by some to have cheated on or off the turf, such as in the stables.
There were samples taken previously from many horses revealed the presence of the drug arsenic.
Those poisons could affect performances and chances of winning of the runners in races.
Six persons being accused had to answer charges of conspiring to dope horses during the 1969-1970 racing season.
A four-month-old trial, Hong Kong biggest horse racing scandal, unexpectedly became a turning point to a historical milestone.
Dr Auchnie, the HKJC vet discovered that a horse called BLACK FURY had definitely been doped, and had raced.
He was also the Shan Kwong Road Stable manager.
In a moment of aberration, nothing like this had ever happened before.
Instead of consulting the Stewards he reported the case to the Police.
A chain of events was set in motion.
Inside the Royal Hong Kong Police Force the gravity of the case was realized immediately.
Tens of millions of dollars were involved.
Under the command of an exceedingly experienced senior officer, an investigation started.
The Stewards got the shock, from the moment when they learned of the vet’s grave but understandable mistake
They knew how a police procedural development was going on.
A year passed, and absolutely nothing came to light.
It was too closely sealed.
Yet, to the discerning, something sinister was going on.
It was not just that one horse.
The Police was as sure of it as were the Stewards, but were unable to pin it down.
Suddenly the Police struck.
One of the leading and most popular jockeys, a Hongkong Portuguese, was arrested in his office in Ice House Street.
He appeared in court next morning on a doping charge.
He was not the only one.
There were several others; most of them Chinese.
It turned out to be among the most extraordinary and complicated cases ever heard in a Hongkong court.
It lasted more than nine months.
The Crown held that 53 horses had been doped, some of them several times, in 88 races over a period of two years.
It was probably far more than this.
Stimulants and depressants had been used.
Depressants had been found to be more effective.
A drug in the feed the day before a race, the depressant kept on for the next two or three races, then with very few bets having been laid on the horse, a win.
There were two doping groups.
Such was the secrecy in which they operated, for several years neither of them knew of each other’s activities, though bumping into each other daily in the stables.
In March 1970 they found out about each other, after which it became slightly more obvious.
It was this which led to the tip-off to the Police to go into action.
The case was extraordinary because as it went on, so did the doping.
Fresh pieces of evidence, totally disorganizing the existent pattern of evidence, kept on coming to light.
Miles Jackson-Lipkin, defending Counsel for the chief accused, revealed halfway through the trial that there was a third gang of dopers.
About whom neither of the others knew.
As need hardly be stated, this created a public sensation.
The following Monday, more evidence was introduced of doping at the previous Saturday’s races.
It was a judicial hearing and a criminal investigation running parallel — an extremely rare and highly interesting legal occurrence.
1971-08-01, jockey Joe Pereira and five others would have to answer charges of conspiring to dope horses, all found guilty.
1972-10-01, jockey Joe Pereir was released on the grounds of his poor health.
But the iniquity of what had been happening settled once and for all the suggestion put forward by Peter Williams that the races go professional.
1975, Joe Pereira passed away in Canada due to cancer.
Acknowledgment to Mr Lacuda Mengnah for relevant content.