On 30 August 2023, the Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) considered a charge issued by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards against licensed trainer-driver Heath Bourke 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 urine sample collected from the horse ‘Pixiu’ after it won Race 2, the ‘Alabar Vicbred Platinum Maiden Pace (1st Div)’, at the Stawell harness racing meeting on 26 January 2023. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported the sample contained arsenic in excess of the allowable threshold.

Mr Bourke pleaded guilty to the charge before submissions on penalty were heard on behalf of the HRV Stewards and Mr Bourke.


Mr Bourke was fined $2000, with $1500 of that fine suspended for a period of 12 months.

The VRT also ordered that, under AHRR 195, ‘Pixiu’ be disqualified from Race 2 at Stawell on 26 January 2023 and that the placings be amended accordingly. Further to that, the VRT ordered that under AHRR 200(1) any prizemoney won by ‘Pixiu’ from the race be refunded to HRV.

VRT Panel: Justice Shane Marshall (Deputy Chairperson) and Dr June Smith.


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)