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Steward praises offending hoop

RACING: The adjudicating Queensland Racing Limited (QRL) steward, retired magistrate Michael Halliday, paid comeback Rockhampton jockey Glenn Lee a rare compliment before imposing a minimal penalty of a three-month race riding suspension at a Callaghan Park inquiry yesterday.

Rockhampton’s Lee, 38, can probably count himself very unlucky as he was outed over the presence of a very low reading of the banned substance cannabis being detected in his urine some five weeks after he had used the recreational drug when he was not employed in the racing industry.

“This inquiry is very impressed by the manner of your co-operation and forthrightness. All circumstances of this inquiry including that will be taken into account, but at the same time the recreational use of drugs and liquor by riders and handlers of horses in the racing industry has to be eliminated,” Halliday said.

Lee, a racing clean skin and former dux of the Rockhampton Jockey Club apprentice school two decades back, 12 months ago made a race riding comeback, which he later aborted over weight issues before gaining employment outside the industry.

“When the new sand track was completed at Callaghan Park, I got back into riding and was starting to fire in races. I did not use any drugs at any time after getting back into racing,” Lee told Halliday.

At Callaghan Park track work on the morning of October 19, Lee, along with all riders, was urine-tested and this subsequently returned the low reading positive to cannabis at 36 micro grams as opposed to the cut-off of 15 micro grams.

Lee subsequently told interviewing steward Luke Collins that this would have resulted from cannabis he used some five weeks earlier when he was employed outside the racing industry.

In response Halliday delivered his penalty, telling Lee: “My determination of an appropriate sanction is a three-month race riding suspension, effective from October 29”.

Halliday said Lee was free to restart riding track work as soon as he delivered a clean (drug free) urine sample, which was to have been taken late yesterday.

Lee thanked Halliday for his fairness.

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