Written reasons following a Disciplinary Panel Hearing
published on 29 August 2018
29th August 2018
1. On the 10th and 14th August 2018 the Independent Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry to consider the following matters:
i) Whether licensed trainer, Rebecca Bastiman, was in breach of Rule (G)2.1 of the Rules of Racing by virtue of the fact that cobalt, a prohibited substance on raceday when above the permitted threshold, was identified as being above the threshold in the raceday sample taken from JOHN CAESAR (IRE) following its run in “The Black Country’s Only Racecourse Handicap Stakes (Class 6)” at Wolverhampton racecourse on the 8th April 2016.
ii) Whether Rebecca Bastiman and Robin Bastiman were in breach of Rule (G)2.5 of the Rules of Racing in respect of the administration of a prohibited substance on raceday, namely cobalt, to the horse JOHN CAESAR (IRE) on 8th April 2016.
iii) Whether Rebecca Bastiman was in breach of Rule (C)37 of the Rules of Racing, in that she allowed JOHN CAESAR (IRE) to run in a race on 8th April 2016 when the horse did not comply with the requirements of Schedule (B)3, namely that the horse had been administered a substance other than normal feed and water on raceday.
iv) Whether Rebecca Bastiman was in breach of Rule (C)13 of the Rules of Racing by failing to record administrations of treatments in the N.T.F. Medication Record.
v) Whether JOHN CAESAR (IRE) should be disqualified from the above race, pursuant to Rule (A)74.2 Ground 3 of the Rules of Racing.
2. The solicitors acting for Rebecca Bastiman submitted her Schedule (A)6 Form together with a lengthy covering letter dated the 6th August 2018. In both of those documents it was made clear that Rebecca Bastiman admitted the breaches of Rules (G)2.1, (C)37 and (C)13. However, she denied being in breach of Rule (G)2.5 and the Disciplinary Hearing was concerned only with that alleged breach (Rule (G)2.5) in relation to her.
3. The sole allegation against Robin Bastiman was an alleged breach of Rule (G)2.5. This arose out of the same circumstances which gave rise to the similar (and contested) breach as alleged against Rebecca Bastiman referred to above. In his Schedule (A)6 Form Robin Bastiman answered Question 4 (“Do you admit being in breach?”) by answering “IN PART GIVEN B 12’s”. The Panel treated this response as equivocal and therefore the Panel proceeded on the basis that Robin Bastiman’s response should be treated as a denial and the case against him should be heard in full as a contested matter. During the hearing the BHA raised some concerns about Robin Bastiman’s partial admission in his Schedule (A)6 Form as a result of which Mr Bastiman was offered an adjournment to seek legal advice. Mr Bastiman refused this offer and indicated that he wished to carry on unrepresented. The Panel assured Mr Bastiman (and the other parties) that the hearing would continue on the basis that Mr Bastiman was denying the charge and that all the evidence in his case would be considered on the basis that the allegation was contested. All parties agreed with this course.
4. The BHA was represented by Mr Tim Naylor and Mr Andrew Howell and Rebecca Bastiman was represented by Mr Roderick Moore of Counsel. As indicated, Robin Bastiman represented himself. No objection was taken to the constitution of the Panel.
5. Rebecca Bastiman trains at Goosemoor Farm, Warfield Lane, Wetherby. She took over the licence from her father Robin Bastiman in early February 2015. Apart from one short break, Robin Bastiman had trained at the same premises from 1975 to 2015 and he, in turn, took over from his father. This was very much a small, family stable.
6. On the 8th April 2016 JOHN CAESAR (IRE) was taken to Wolverhampton to contest “The Black Country’s Only Racecourse Handicap Stakes (Class 6)” race which was due off at 19.50 hrs. The horse was accompanied to the racecourse by Rebecca and Robin Bastiman. JOHN CAESAR (IRE) was ridden by Daniel Tudhope and won the race at a starting price of 15-2. The Stewards ordered a routine post-race test and, accordingly, a urine sample was taken and sent for analysis. At that time tests for cobalt could not be undertaken as there was no approved and validated testing procedure but the sample tested negative for all other substances. However, the sample was retained (along with many other unrelated samples) in long-term storage at the BHA’s approved laboratory L.G.C. Following the subsequent approval of a validated testing procedure for cobalt the sample was analysed for the presence of cobalt in 2017. On the 17th July 2017 the L.G.C. laboratory confirmed a level of cobalt to be present in the sample at a measured concentration of 362 nanograms per millilitre. This exceeded the internationally recognised screening limit of 100 nanograms per millilitre in urine. In other words just over 3 ½ times the permitted level.
7. Cobalt is an essential trace dietary mineral required by all mammals, including horses, and is present at the active centre of some coenzymes such as cobalamins, the most common of which is Vitamin B12. A normal horse diet contains sufficient cobalt to meet these requirements. There are no published reports of cobalt deficiency in horses, but cobalt is present in many equine supplements. The National Research Council has recommended a minimum cobalt intake of 0.5mg of cobalt per day for a 500kg horse. Vitamin B12 is present in several equine medicines and supplements. Such supplements may be legitimately administered to racehorses by trainers but a record of administration should be kept and they should not be administered on a raceday as they are not classed as “normal feed and water”. Hemo-15, which is not licensed for use in horses in the U.K., may be prescribed by veterinary surgeons under the “Cascade” legislation. Cobalt is a threshold substance prohibited on raceday by the Rules of Racing at a concentration exceeding 0.01 micrograms total cobalt per millilitre in urine. It is possible that exposure to significantly increased levels of cobalt may have welfare implications for the horse.
8. In the light of the positive finding on the 17th July 2017 (referred to above) an unannounced visit was paid to Rebecca Bastiman’s yard at Wetherby by Mr Jon Dunn and Mr John Burgess who are Investigating Officers for the BHA. They were accompanied by Dr David Sykes (the BHA’s Director of Equine Health and Welfare) and Ms Karen West (the BHA’s Equine Welfare Integrity Officer). They were met by Rebecca Bastiman’s brother and Assistant Trainer Harvey Bastiman. The latter told them that his sister was at Ayr races. The Investigating Officers indicated that there had been a positive test and that they wished to further their enquiries and they suggested that Harvey Bastiman contact Rebecca Bastiman by telephone to obtain her consent for the enquiries to be made. Harvey Bastiman contacted Rebecca Bastiman and she gave the consent as requested. The Investigating Officers made copies of the relevant pages of the N.T.F. Medication Record Book and inspected the medication store and the feed room. Inventories were made and photographs taken.
9. Subsequent inspection of the medication records indicated that none of the products therein contained, or may reasonably be considered to contain, cobalt or Vitamin B12. The Medication Inventory and the Feeds, Supplements and Additives Inventory when inspected showed no product which contained, or may reasonably be considered to contain, cobalt or Vitamin B12.
10. Dr David Sykes and Karen West took blood samples from several horses in the yard and the samples were submitted to L.G.C. for analysis. All samples recorded levels of cobalt below the international, permitted raceday threshold. In a telephone call prior to leaving the yard the Investigating Officers told Miss Bastiman of the positive test for cobalt in relation to JOHN CAESAR (IRE) and she replied that she was unaware of what cobalt was.
11. On the 27th July 2017 BHA Investigating Officers again attended at Rebecca Bastiman’s yard at Wetherby and interviewed her. The following points emerged from the interview:-
i) Miss Bastiman could offer no explanation for the adverse analytical finding.
ii) She said that JOHN CAESAR (IRE) would not always eat up and could be panicky.
iii) The only medication recorded as being used on JOHN CAESAR (IRE) was Norodine.
iv) Harvey Bastiman was responsible for the feed used and he would use the supplements Haemavite B Plus and DMG. Rebecca Bastiman said that Harvey Bastiman would provide double the amount of supplement to give the horses “a boost of extra”.
v) The use of DMG solution and Pure DMG stopped because it became too expensive.
vi) Miss Bastiman said that her father, Robin Bastiman, used to give all the horses Vitamin B12 and he would say “if they don’t eat up give them a B12”. She agreed that she had not written up in the medication record that her father had administered Vitamin B12. Miss Bastiman said that she did not inject the horses but that her father did. She understood that he did this to liven the horses up or, if near to a race, to put a bit more energy in the horse and to give them a bit of a boost. She accepted that the injections were not recorded and that it was possible that an injection was given on the morning of a race if a horse had not eaten up.
vii) Miss Bastiman said that either herself or Harvey Bastiman would administer to the horses and this would be done either by mixing the product into the feed or by syringe directly into a horse’s mouth.
viii) In relation to JOHN CAESAR (IRE) on the 8th April 2016 Miss Bastiman said that he would have only been fed normal food and water on the day itself but that her brother would double up on product in the three or four days before a run “just to try and enhance the performance”.
12. Following this interview the Integrity Officers made contact with the yard’s veterinary surgeons Emson Equine and requested the clinical records of JOHN CAESAR (IRE) and any details of the supply of Vitamin B12. They responded that two 50ml. bottles of Vitamin B12 had been supplied on the 25th May 2015 and that no individual horse had been prescribed Vitamin B12.
13. Miss Bastiman provided photographs of invoices for all supplements believed to contain Vitamin B12 between January 2014 and April 2016. These were received on the 9th August 2017 and showed the following purchases:-
i) 30.4.14 Intravit B12 (200 mls)
ii) 16.1.15 Hemo-15 (300 mls)
17.3.15 Hemo-15 (400 mls)
26.5.15 Hemo-15 (400 mls)
15.8.15 Hemo-15 (500 mls)
iii) 12.2.16 Haemavite B Plus (2 litres)
30.3.16 Haemavite B Plus (5 litres)
20.5.16 Haemavite B Plus (5 litres)
14. The spotlight now turned towards Harvey and Robin Bastiman who were both Assistant Trainers to Rebecca Bastiman. On the 16th August 2017 Jon Dunn returned to the yard to speak to them both. Harvey Bastiman accepted that he sourced the feed and supplements and that Robin Bastiman undertook the first feed of the day (7am) and he, Harvey, undertook the remaining three feeds. Harvey Bastiman said that in April 2016 he was using Haemavite B Plus and that this was given to horses for about 4-5 weeks leading up to a race. The supplement was poured into the feed. He said that during this period they decided to stop the Vitamin B12 injections that were administered by Robin Bastiman. Harvey Bastiman accepted that there might have been a period when injections AND Haemavite B Plus were given. After the last piece of work before a race Harvey Bastiman said he would double the dose of Haemavite B Plus right up to the last feed the day before the race. In relation to the 8th April 2016 he said that JOHN CAESAR (IRE) would have had his morning and midday feed at the yard with the afternoon feed being given at the racecourse. Harvey Bastiman said all of the feeds given on the day of the race would have included a standard quantity of Haemavite B Plus. He said he did not know that Vitamin B12 was a source of cobalt.
15. Robin Bastiman said that he had been a licensed trainer for forty years prior to his daughter taking over in 2015 and, when training, he would inject horses with Vitamin B12 if the horses did not eat up. He said that he continued to inject the horses after Rebecca Bastiman took over and accepted that there would have been a period when the horses were receiving injections and feed supplements. He said that there came a time when it was decided that feed supplements were the preferred source of Vitamin B12. He accepted that an injection might be given on the morning of a race if the horse had not eaten the previous evening’s feed. He added that a 50 ml. bottle would last about one month and supplies were obtained from the vet or online. In relation to JOHN CAESAR (IRE) he admitted that the horse was given injections but said that he could not recall whether he gave injections in the lead up to the race on the 8th April 2016 but that it was possible. He said that is was also possible that he gave JOHN CAESAR (IRE) an injection on the morning of the race. He professed not to know that Vitamin B12 was a source of cobalt.
16. Robin Bastiman was formally interviewed by the Investigating Officers on the 28thFebruary 2018. He again accepted that he gave “B12” injections to horses in the yard if they were finicky eaters or out of sorts. He added that if a horse was running and had not eaten up “I would probably bang maybe 20 mls. of B12 into the horse in the morning” and it was “just like a boost”. He went on to say that a finicky eater would get “a big dose of it”. He said that JOHN CAESAR (IRE) was not a great eater. He admitted that he would inject the horses in the mornings and not at the racecourse.
17. Rebecca Bastiman was also interviewed on the 28th February 2018. She said that her father would give the injections and that she did not think that he would discuss this with her and that he would just do it. She went on to say that injections would be given in the morning but she would not know if her father had given a horse an injection on raceday. She thought they would have set off for Wolverhampton on the 8th April 2016 at about lunchtime to allow for a three-hour trip and an arrival time two hours prior to the start of racing. She said that they did have Hemo-15 on the yard and that it was probably used by her father.
18. In the light of all the evidence and the explanations put forward by Robin and Rebecca Bastiman the BHA sought the opinion of Stuart W Paine who is the Associate Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology at the University of Nottingham. He considered a number of scenarios in relation to the samples taken from JOHN CAESAR (IRE) at 8.15pm on the 8thApril 2016. The Panel has looked at his conclusions in the light of the uncontested facts of the case. The Panel accepts Professor Paine’s conclusion that it is unlikely that a 10 ml. dose of Intravit contributed significantly to the analytical findings in this case. However, a 20 ml. dose could show a reading of 362 ng/ml. if given 2-3 hours before the sample was taken. There is no evidence that any dose was given to JOHN CAESAR (IRE) at the racecourse; therefore the Panel rejects the above two possibilities as being a cause of the adverse analytical finding. Professor Paine regards it as plausible that the adverse analytical finding could be caused by a 10 ml. dose of Hemo-15 if given six hours before the sample was taken. That would mean administration of the Hemo-15 at about 2pm. On the evidence, JOHN CAESAR (IRE) would almost certainly have been in transit in the horsebox at that time and therefore we do not regard this as a likely explanation for the analytical finding. Far more likely, or plausible to use the expression employed by Professor Paine, is the conclusion that a 20 ml. intramuscular dose of Hemo-15 could result in the finding of 362 ng/ml. in urine if given as a single dose either 8 hours before the sample was taken or, if given as two doses of 20 mls. and administered 34 and 10 hours before the sample was taken. Either of the above two conclusions would therefore mean that there was a raceday administration of a significant quantity of Hemo-15 at approximately 10am or at about 12 noon. The Panel is quite satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that there was in fact a raceday administration of Hemo-15 to JOHN CAESAR (IRE).
19. Reference has already been made to the BHA interviews of Robin Bastiman. He readily admitted having given horses injections of Vitamin B12 over many years. He acknowledged that he continued to inject horses at the yard after his daughter commenced training even when the horses were also being given supplements in their food. He accepted that he had injected horses on raceday in the past and said that it is possible that he gave JOHN CAESAR (IRE) injections of Vitamin B12 leading up to the race on the 8th April 2016 and, indeed, on the morning of the race. He added that if a horse had not eaten up he would probably “bang maybe 20 mls. of B12” into the horse on the morning of a race. The purpose of this was to give the horse a boost and enhance its performance.
20. Robin Bastiman gave evidence before the Panel and he reiterated his long-standing practice of giving injections of Vitamin B12. He repeated that he had given raceday injections in the past and said that he might have done so on the 8th April 2016 in relation to JOHN CAESAR (IRE). He was unclear as to when he ceased to administer injections. Mr Bastiman was a most unimpressive witness. The Panel takes the view that this was not due to confusion or faded memory but, rather, a desire to tailor his account to advance his own interests and/or those of his daughter and to put his case in the most favourable light possible. Indeed, the Panel has reluctantly concluded that Mr Bastiman was prepared to lie, and did lie, when he gave evidence. He admitted to Mr Naylor in cross-examination that he had lied earlier in his evidence when he had initially denied ever having given a raceday administration to a horse.
21. When the evidence referred to in para 20 (above) is examined in the light of the conclusions of Professor Stuart W. Paine the Panel is driven unhesitatingly to the conclusion that Robin Bastiman administered a prohibited substance, namely cobalt, to JOHN CAESAR (IRE) on raceday, that being the 8th April 2016. Accordingly, the Panel finds Mr Bastiman to be in breach of Rule (G)2.5 of the Rules of Racing.
22. As indicated at the outset the only matter contested by Miss Bastiman is the alleged breach of Rule (G)2.5. The case for the BHA was that Rebecca Bastiman was either present for and assisted in the raceday administration of cobalt by her father or connived in and allowed the said administration. It is clear to the Panel, in reality, that Robin Bastiman administered the substance on raceday and the real issue to be determined in Miss Bastiman’s case is whether she connived at, or allowed, the administration. In determining this issue the Panel has, at all times, borne in mind the relevant burden and standard of proof.
23. The BHA made a number of telling and valid points against Miss Bastiman. Miss Bastiman was aware of her father’s use of Vitamin B12 and she knew that he would inject horses with it and had injected horses over a long period of time. She had also allowed her father to inject horses at the yard during the first 11 or 12 months of her tenure as a licensed trainer. Miss Bastiman admitted that she had purchased large quantities of Hemo-15 online in response to her father’s requests for supplies of Vitamin B12. The label on the bottles clearly shows that cobalt is an ingredient. Further, Miss Bastiman allowed her father free and unlimited access to the medical cabinet or, at the very least, allowed her father unrestricted access to the supplies of Hemo-15 and other Vitamin B12 supplements and, recklessly in the Panel’s view, permitted her father to give the horses the morning feed unsupervised. Miss Bastiman, it was argued by the BHA, ran a small yard with few non-family members of staff and therefore it was suggested that she must have known what her father was up to.
24. The above points were well-made by the BHA. The Panel has taken full account of these (and other) points made by the BHA. At the very least, Miss Bastiman’s failure properly to supervise her training operation was lamentable and a serious derogation of her duties and responsibilities as a licensed trainer.
25. On the other hand the Panel bears in mind that she obtained her licence in February 2015 but her father remained present as her Assistant. Having seen and heard Mr Robin Bastiman during the Disciplinary Hearing the Panel has no doubt that he would have been an overbearing presence at the yard during the period with which this hearing is concerned. The Panel readily understands the family dynamic which must have existed.
The Panel regards this case as finely balanced and is grateful to Mr Naylor and Mr Moore for their helpful and cogent submissions. However, having regard to the required standard of proof we are not satisfied that Miss Bastiman is in breach of Rule (G)2.5 of the Rules of Racing.
27. There is little or no mitigation in Mr Bastiman’s case. He submitted an equivocal response in his (A)6 Form in reply to the question whether he admitted being in breach. He admitted lying to the Panel during the Disciplinary Hearing and he was evasive on other matters when pressed in cross examination. Mr Bastiman ignored his daughter’s requests to stop injecting the horses with Vitamin B12 for at least one year after she acquired her licence. The Panel finds that he must have been an overbearing presence in the yard at the relevant time and, by injecting JOHN CAESAR (IRE) on the 8th April 2016 with a prohibited substance, he was prepared to put his daughter’s licence and fledgling business operation at risk. The entry penalty for a breach of Rule (G)2.5 is a fine of £2,000 and/or disqualification for a period of 2 years. The range of penalty is a fine between £1,000 and £12,000 and disqualification for between 6 months and 10 years. Bearing in mind the aggravating features the penalty imposed is disqualification for 3 years with such period to begin on the 14 August 2018.
28. Miss Bastiman cooperated with the BHA enquiries and made early acknowledgement of her breaches of Rules (G)2.1, (C)37 and (C)13 and for that full credit is given. The Panel also takes account of the fact that Miss Bastiman is a hard worker, the family dynamic which was at work and the appalling ill-health which she has suffered recently. The Panel takes account of all the mitigating features advanced by Mr. Moore. However, Miss Bastiman is the licensed trainer in this matter and she must shoulder the responsibility for these events. The Panel takes the view that there has been a significant failure by Miss Bastiman to carry out her duties and obligations as a licensed trainer. These failings have already been referred to in para. 23 (above) and are not repeated here but the Panel regards those matters as serious aggravating features.
29. Bearing in mind that the Panel is told that Miss Bastiman has £7,000 in savings and pays herself a wage of only £80 per week the appropriate penalty is as follows:
i) Breach of Rule (G)2.1 £2,000 fine
ii) Breach of Rule (C)37 £2,000 fine
iii) Breach of Rule (C)13 £1,000 fine
30.Finally, the Panel orders that JOHN CAESAR (IRE) be disqualified from “The Black Country’s Only Racecourse Handicap Stakes (Class6)” at Wolverhampton on the 8th April 2016 pursuant to Rule (A)74.2 Ground 3 of the Rules of Racing. The Panel directs that all prize money paid to the owner, trainer and jockey be repaid by them to such person as the BHA may direct and that any physical prize or trophy awarded to the owner must be surrendered to the BHA.