Three years ago a trot trainer named Shaun Anthony Simiana was disqualified from the sport for 16 years after being found guilty of hitting his horses with the highly illegal substances EPO and peptide, the same gear that discredited sports ‘scientist’ Stephen Dank once used to inject into Essendon players arses.
Simiana had been suspended six months before the matter was finalised and he copped the 16 year spell, and through either good luck or smart scheming his trainer’s license expired in that time. It doesn’t seem a big deal does it, but it was.
I will tell you why in a minute, but first let me tell you about a couple of horses that the cheating trainer hit.
Franco Tiago was a former Kiwi who’d shown a bit of promise winning six races on grass tracks a few years before, but recurrent injuries and niggles since moving to Oz had caused him to lose all form, which is why he was running around in a weak claiming race at Geelong when Simiana’s team picked him up for a few grand.
A lot of people would have looked at the NSW crew as if they were idiots for paying even two cents for Franco Tiago, for the pacer hadn’t even looked like winning at its past ten starts in low-class races, and had strugged into a place just twice.
But Simiana knew something that they didn’t.
He knew the man who sold the drugs.
Just two weeks after being claimed, Franco Tiago stepped out in the Simiana colours at Penrith and won a race in 1.57.2. Two weeks later it went to Newcastle and won in 1.54.5, and a fortnight after that it turned up to Menangle and blitzed them in 1.52.2.
Franco Tiago lead and got beat a nose next time out at Bathurst, but it was one of the weirdest races you’ve ever seen, or perhaps not, if you know what I mean. Amanda ‘Turbo’ Turnbull was driving the second fave, and for no good reason at all decided to launch a suicide attack from the death, forcing Simiana’s new star to run quarters of 28.8, 28.4 and 28.8 while the third fave sat on their backs smoking its pipe. It came over the top and beat them of course, but only by split pea.
The horse returned to Menangle and won 4 of its next 5 races, running 1.52.0, 1.52.4 and 1.52.5 over the mile, and 1.55.6 from the death over 2300m, but disaster was waiting just behind the stable door.
Simiana got sprung in a swab.
In the blink of an eye the dream run was dead.
Franco Tiago had another ten starts for four different trainers after Simiana’s suspension, most of them at country tracks. The best he could finish was third.
I wonder why?
Up next: Part 2 – to Walkabout Creek and back