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New Zealand Jockey Troy Harris facing drug charges

New Zealand: Troy Harris has become the latest jockey to be charged with drug offences under the rulesof New Zealand racing, and now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines if found guilty at a hearing on March 30.

Harris, 21, has had his license revoked after being charged with a Serious Racing Offence, in accordance with the New Zealand Rules of Racing. The charge relates to a dishonest act with supplying a urine sample during random drug tests conducted on 12 jockeys at the South Waikato Racing Club’s meeting at Matamata last  Wednesday. Harris had two rides at the meeting, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

The jockey, who has ridden only 11 winners this season, is reported to have attempted to conceal a container of urine in the testing bay.

Fellow jockey Bruce Herd earned himself a 15-month riding ban for the same offence in 2008, while Opie Bosson who supplied Herd with the sample in question was suspended for four months.  

If found guilty, Harris will almost certainly be in line for a much longer sentence, having fallen foul of New Zealand racing’s drug rules once already.

He served a three month suspension last year after testing positive for cannabis following his victory on Te Akau Rose in the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes in February 2009, and also paid costs of around NZ$1,000 for the offence which he described at the time as being “a silly weekend thing” rather than a more serious problem.

Named Apprentice Jockey of the Year for the 2006-07 season at New Zealand racing’s prestigious Mercedes Awards, Harris was widely tipped for success, but has endured a rollercoaster career to date.

Harris partnered Tell A Tale to victory in the 2008 Group 1 New Zealand 2,000 Guineas, and also took the Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes aboard Dezigna in the same season.

However, in addition to his suspension last year, Harris has also served a six week ban during his apprenticeship after being charged with bullying via text messages and letting down the tyres of a fellow rider’s car.

By Amy Bennett