Author Topic: Great article of NZ Trainer (From Champ to a Cheat)  (Read 189 times)

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Great article of NZ Trainer (From Champ to a Cheat)
« on: July 18, 2020, 03:18:12 PM »

In 2004, he was found guilty of administering the key performance enhancing substance in Blue Magic, propantheline bromide, and disqualified for 18 months, reduced by five months on appeal.

Trainer and driver Jill Smolenski has known McGrath since he was a young lad working for Derek Jones and wasn’t surprised by the latest turn of events. She also began her career at 15, working for her father Jack Smolenski, one of the best New Zealand trainers of his era. Her father and Derek Jones were mates, and she says Jones “thought the world of Nigel”.

“He would be turning in his grave now. In my eyes, Nigel is a cheat. I’ve lost all faith in him. How long has he been doing it? From a trainer’s point of view, you are working hard to get your horse up to the mark and then you hear people have been doing this. It’s really disheartening.

“You do your best and play by the rules, but what is the point of going out to try to beat them when they are always going to have an unfair advantage?”

She questions McGrath’s horsemanship if he has to resort to breaking the rules.

“It’s got to be money, got to be punting, because I can’t see how you would put yourself in that position. Eventually everybody gets caught. It’s ruined our game.”

People like McGrath have done inestimable damage to her industry, she says.

When she mixes with non-racing people now, she gets the impression “everyone thinks we are cheats”.


Trainer, breeder and businessman Michael House got to know McGrath when he began working for Derek Jones and describes his fall from grace as “disastrous”.

“I feel angry he has let himself down, his family down and the industry. It’s a black mark and taints us all. Wherever I go it’s become very hard to sell harness racing,” he says.

McGrath was a “seriously talented” horseman and ran a tight operation.

“His horses would make any trainer proud and his gear was always immaculate. He didn’t need to cheat to do very well and I’ve got no idea why he did it.”

Trainers were under a lot of pressure due to expectations from owners and all the uncertainties in the industry.

House believes Harness Racing New Zealand needs to put more effort into professional development and do more to offer lifelines to people having trouble, as happens in other professions.

“The modern world is catching up with an old sport. There’s a lack of good governance in the industry. Lines get blurred and some people get lost. Nigel was one of them.”


This is exactly why we don't get new people into the industry.  This guy was a great trainer who didn't need to resort to this bullshit.  I am surprised they didn't ban him for life, especially after what he did in 2004


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