Trainer suspended over 'death row' horse

·2-min read

A Victorian racehorse trainer has been hit with a 12-month licence suspension after he failed to get three of his horses veterinary care, leaving one effectively on "death row".

The state racing tribunal initially halted Mark Sues' licence in 2020, after the trainer pleaded guilty to three misconduct charges. They related to three of his horses: Remodel, Speech Therapy, and a filly called both Excelebration and Lolini.

The tribunal found each of the horses was in need of veterinary treatment, but Mr Sues failed to give it to them. A Racing Victoria-led examination showed the filly had a body score of between zero and 0.5, and severe exudative dermatitis on its back.

Remodel also had a "very poor" body score of 0.5, and Speech Therapy's score came in at 1.5.

Any score below two is considered unacceptable.

Mr Sues disputed many of the tribunal's findings.

The racing tribunal stripped Mr Sues of his licence for 12 months, with nine months of that penalty suspended to hang over the trainer's head for a year.

Mr Sues appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to overturn Racing Victoria's decision, but senior member John Billings knocked back his request.

Instead, Mr Billings agreed to extend the nine-month suspended period to hang over the trainer's head for two years, rather than 12 months. Racing Victoria Limited asked the tribunal for as much.

In written reasons published this week, Mr Billings said the filly was on death row when it was examined. He said Mr Sues' case was at least as serious as another trainer's, even though one of that trainer's horses had died.

"(Mr Sues said) with the same set of circumstances in future, he would call in a vet in order to avoid a charge of contravening the rules," Mr Billings said.

"He didn't say that in the same set of circumstances he would call in a vet because he has insight into the need for the horses to be given qualified expert veterinary attention at the earliest point."

The order about Mr Sues' licence suspension came into effect in February.

RSPCA Victoria received more than 1180 reports about horse welfare in the 2020/21 financial year, and more than 1200 in 2019/20.

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