On 10 March 2021, the Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) considered a charge issued by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards against licensed trainer Alfio Grasso under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1).

AHRR 190(1) reads as follows:

A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances.

The charge related to a pre-race blood sample collected from the horse ‘Safari Rose’ prior to it competing in Race 1 at the Mildura harness racing meeting on 19 July 2019. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that the sample to contained alkalinising agents, a prohibited substance when evidenced by a total carbon dioxide (TCO2) concentration in excess of the allowable threshold.

An earlier application by Mr Grasso to have the sample retested by another laboratory was refused by the VRT.

Mr Grasso subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge before submissions on penalty were heard from the HRV Stewards and Damien O’Dea, legal representative for Mr Grasso.


The VRT imposed a 12 month suspension, with 3 months of that penalty suspended for 24 months.

The VRT also ordered that, under AHRR 195, ‘Safari Rose’ be disqualified from the relevant race.


VRT Panel: Justice Shane Marshall (Chairman) and Des Gleeson


The written decisions of the VRT can be found here.

(Please note that VRT Decisions will generally be published within 7-10 days of the date of hearing)