A Casino horse trainer has been banned.
A Casino horse trainer has been banned. Adam Hourigan

BANNED: Casino trainer shot horse after 16 agonising days

A CASINO trainer who left a racehorse in pain for 16 days after it injured its leg, and then lied to a steward about it, has copped a lengthy disqualification from the sport.

John Hughes was banned for 15 months following a Racing NSW stewards' inquiry concluded earlier this year in relation to the treatment and subsequent death of the racehorse Bon Leanga, of which he was the registered trainer and part owner.

Bon Leanga suffered an injury during a training session at the Casino racetrack on September 25 last year.

Hughes denied the horse medical attention from a vet until about October 11, when he euthanased it with a single gunshot.

He also failed to provide sufficient pain relief to the horse, by only administering medication every second day instead of daily.

Thirdly, Hughes provided false or misleading evidence to Racing NSW stewards during an initial inquiry into the horse's whereabouts on November 6.

Northern Rivers chairman of stewards Mark Holloway said he was tipped off about the horse's death but when he made inquiries with Hughes at Ballina racecourse on November 6 he was told Bon Leanga was "spelling" in Queensland.

Later that day, Hughes "came clean" and admitted the horse had been euthanased.

Holloway said the horse was able to move but was "significantly lame" after its injury and should have been getting daily treatment.

"His error was he believed he could treat itself," Holloway said.

At the January 16 inquiry Hughes pleaded guilty to four charges over the incident, and was ultimately disqualified for a total of 15 months.

Under the terms of the disqualification, Hughes cannot set foot on a racetrack until April 16, 2019, when he can reapply for a licence.

In his defence, stewards noted that Hughes had been involved in the racing industry for more than 30 years and had never offended previously.

He had also ultimately pleaded guilty and expressed genuine remorse. Nor was he responsible for Bon Leanga's initial injury.

However, stewards also concluded that Hughes's "management of (the) injury, and failure to provide veterinary care to the mare, was unacceptable and not of a standard expected of a licensed horse trainer".



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