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‘I Was Framed’ – Flamingo Park Trainer

She is getting out of the game

Stephanie Miller claims that she was framed by a rival trainer when Bongo Dance tested positive to testosterone when he ran second at Flamingo Park last November and when needles with traces of the same prohibited substance were seized by National Horseracing Authority officials at her stables a month later.

The Kimberley trainer, speaking to journalist Michael Clower, also maintains that the cattle prodder found at her training premises in June was there innocently and that she would never use it on a horse.

She has been fined R238 000 for these two offences and for a third – an out-of-competition specimen taken from Cape Rebel in May being found to contain traces of the banned anti-inflammatory Flunixin. In addition, she has had her trainer’s licence withdrawn for three months for the cattle prodder case, the withdrawal suspended for 12 months provided she is not found guilty of a similar offence in the meantime.

Mrs Miller said: “There has been an absolute hate relationship between us (my brother and I) and another trainer for a few years now and we had threats from him saying that he would make sure that our horses tested positive.”

When asked if she was implying that this trainer was responsible for the gelding Bongo Dance testing positive to the male hormone testosterone (which would have jazzed up the horse) she replied: “Definitely and in my bakkie they found five needles, and one of these was on the floor without a cap.

“I train for my brother (Francois du Toit) and I opened both his and my betting accounts to the NHA to show that we put not a cent on Bongo Dance that day. But under the rules the trainer is responsible for everything connected with the horse under his or her care.”

Cape Rebel wins at Fairview (Pauline Herman)

Mrs Miller admits giving Flunixin to Cape Rebel. “The horse pulled a tendon, was in terrible pain and I couldn’t get a vet at the time. I admitted my guilt to the NHA and said that this is what I did because I cannot see a horse in pain.”

But it is the cattle prodder that has really brought down the NHA’s wrath and seen Mrs Miller vilified on social media and in the correspondence pages of the Sporting Post website.

Cattle prodders, whose tips can produce an electric shock, are real Dick Francis stuff so far as racing is concerned.

The work rider is instructed to carry one instead of a whip and towards the end of the gallop he gives a loud shout, touches the horse with the prodder at the same time as he presses the relevant button and an electric charge shoots through the horse. After receiving this treatment in two or three subsequent gallops he knows exactly what the shout means.

When it comes to the race the jockey is told to shout a furlong or so out and tap the horse with his whip. No electric shock but the horse believes he knows what is coming and takes off like Usain Bolt.

“I am not an animal abuser and I would never do anything like that to a horse but that cattle prodder had been sitting in my office for two years unknown to me,” said Mrs Miller. “My brother and I have a farm and two years ago we sold the cattle and bought game.

“I loaded the cattle onto a truck to take them to the auction. I had a prodder on the farm but that day it wouldn’t work. I took it with me to the stables and asked a trainer friend to have a look at it for me. He didn’t know what was wrong and left it there but my staff put it on the top shelf in my office without my knowing. The NHA raided my office on June 24 and they found the prodder. I have photos of it with the battery acid leaking out of it. But it was in my possession so I am responsible.”

Mrs Miller, 58, is the widow of Peter Miller who was the top trainer in Kimberley for nine seasons on the trot before his death from a heart attack at the age of 60 in April 2011. Their son Sean took over but was killed in a motor accident in June the following year and Mrs Miller, known as Steph to her friends, then assumed control of the training operation.

She has decided not to appeal against the fines and the suspension because of the cost of further legal action.

“I had an advocate representing me in the testosterone case and I have received an account for R293 000 for that alone. I have decided that I am going to go out of racing. It has been a terrible time for me this last week although losing my husband and losing my son were far worse.”


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18 comments on “‘I Was Framed’ – Flamingo Park Trainer

  1. Armchair jockey says:

    Having followed this on SP and seen the one sided comments against her I can only feel sorry for this woman. Finally someone has decided to give her side of the story. If mere possession is going to drive conviction then we are on a steady slope to nowhere. It is not only the NHA which needs to rethink these policies it is everyone who reports or comments on the same when only a portion of the facts are known.

  2. Ashleigh says:

    Electric prodders are also used by unscrupulous people to scare horses into the starting stalls. That is in fact the most common use of this aparatus in a racing yard. The small hand held “buzzer”described in the Dick Francis novels is hand size. Cattle prodders are not handsized and are way too clumsy to be held in ones hand and then to reach around and try to electrocute the horse with tha while riding? Yeah right. What a joke.

  3. Concerned says:

    Armchair wake up
    Who in his right mind would do something like that . Was Gert Theron also framed positive for the same steroid on a horse. For the same owner??? Also found guilty
    If she is so sure about being framed why not name the other person

  4. Iamgram2 says:

    Mrs Miller says that the cattle prodder was there innocently. Odd that she does not disclose what the innocent reasons were having the cattle prodder at her stables. It surely was not used to adorn her wall in her stable office. Even I can put two and two together. No trainer As far as I am aware a cattle prodder is designed to be used for cattle and not horses. That is why it is called a cattle prodder. I disagree with Ashleigh. Reading the article, it seems that Mrs Miller only used one explanation and not the excuse raised by Ashleigh. The cattle prodder she or her husband must have seen or used in the past was antiquated. It disturbs me that she has so much knowledge of this apparatus. I think she may be biased in favour of Mrs Miller. Can Mr Ed find out the type, make and model of the cattle prodder for us to see what Ashleigh may be saying.

  5. ByTheWay says:

    This lady seems like a stranger to the truth. She has her stables very well covered within surveillance cameras. Why does she not provide the NHA with the footage?

  6. Armchair jockey says:

    The kettle is back here calling the pot out. While the article explains how the cattle prodder of whatever make and model got onto the premises Iamgram2 decides there is no explanation. Just call me mug Bytheway! Yes I am awake.

  7. Disgusted says:

    Spoken like a true politician.

  8. Leon Lotz says:

    This has been the story of Kimberley, sewende laan in action,n televisie sepie, read in the one other comment on closing down of the track ” some of us look after our horses”,the same man’s horses tested positive . Angel in cammo.How in my right mind could I think coming back it would change.

  9. Lou Syfer says:

    What a lot of nonsense. Ms Miller you have been exposed. Do all animal loving enthusiasts a favour and stick to your promise of leaving training. We do not need people like you despite your feeble excuses.

    Well done NHA carry on exposing the guilty

  10. Ringer fan says:

    Had Steph used the Ringer her legal fees would have been substantially less. He does the work himself and does not use advocates. When it comes to horse racing legal matters, the old saying use the right horse for the right course applies. On the other side of the coin, had Steph not done what she was found guilty of, she would not have needed an advocate and would not have spent so much money on legal costs.

  11. Paul says:

    I am with the Armchair Jock and Ashleigh on this one. We are not given sufficient info, in NHA press releases, to make proper, informed judgements.

    Rule 72.1.14 covers 2 situations: use or possession. The NHA press release makes it clear there was no evidence presented of use of the cattle prodder. So when Mrs Miller plead guilty to the charge, one can conclude that was based on her being found in possession only. The explanation given to the journalist is not inconsistent with that, is in my view credible and there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary. Any views/comments as to the use of the device are pure conjecture (if anyone has actual evidence of use, please do contact the NHA!). Being found guilty of testosterone use is surely not proof of use of a cattle prodder.

    As to the Dick Francis reference: really? (Is that the same reporter who made the Red Rum reference in the Al Bragga piece?).

  12. Beatle says:

    Somehow I find it difficult to believe that some other trainer planted all this evidence – to me it looks all to like someone guilty and trying last resort to save themselves – and as we hear she has camera’s around her stables

  13. Cecil says:

    This is a case for Mike Bolhuis to look into.

  14. ILOVEFRANKI says:

    local horse racing is a joke…UK racing is the best

  15. Concerned says:

    Lots is right he should have stayed away
    Please dont live in a glass house and throw stones at others demise . The only soapy in flamingo was you

  16. Jerry A. Nolen says:

    If you don’t know the difference between a cattle prod and a machine why are you even committing about this. I think the cattle prod is not an issue since it appears it was never used or even proven that it worked . However they are banned from the track and because of that she should have received a fine with out suspension. Now the needles are a different subject and the fact she admitted giving an injection that is grounds for suspension and heavy fines.

  17. Tank68 says:

    In her possession? Ask another trainer to take a look at it? One of her staff members put it in her office? How does she know her staff member put it in her office if she didn’t know it was there to start with? Passing the buck with every direction. Throwing other trainers under the bus her staff members and she is not a animal abuser. She admits to one fine then the other positives she doesn’t. There is to much going on there for me. Before this I had acquired from a lot of people for her number to see if I can send her a horse if her stabling rates were good. Every single person I had asked had it but said sorry they can’t give it out why? All the other trainers numbers I have. She must go to her farm where her game is because she doesn’t belong in this one!

  18. espresso says:

    i like like

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