Monday 24 November 2014

UK watchdog tests Irish trainer Philip Fenton's horses after drug claims

Published 25/02/2014 | 02:30

Trainer wins delay in court case...Trainer Philip Fenton at Clonmel Racecourse in co Tipperary, as Lawyers for Fenton have told a court there are issues over summonses issued against him over the alleged possession of banned animal remedies including steroids. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday February 20, 2014. Fenton, of Garryduff, South Lodge, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, faces eight charges over treatments and medicines allegedly found at his yard in January 2012. The case against the 49-year-old - who trains one of the favourites for the Cheltenham Gold Cup - was adjourned at Carrick-on-Suir District Court until after next month's Cheltenham festival. See PA story IRISH Trainer. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire...A
Trainer Philip Fenton

OFFICIALS from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) are to visit the yard of racehorse trainer Philip Fenton to test potential Cheltenham-bound horses amid allegations over banned animal drugs.

The BHA, which governs the multi-billion-euro industry, confirmed it would be travelling to the Co Tipperary yard of Mr Fenton to interview the trainer.

It will also be collecting test samples of blood and hair from the horses entered for races in next month's four-day Cheltenham Festival.

All samples will then be fast-tracked for analysis at the HFL Sport Science laboratory in Newmarket, with results available next week.

The BHA confirmed the test results would form part of the "decision-making process" on how to ensure public confidence in races his team would contest at Cheltenham.

It is understood negative samples would not automatically mean they would be allowed run at the festival if other issues were to arise on the visit.

Mr Fenton, who has the Gold Cup hope Last Instalment, owned by businessman Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, in training, said they were welcome. "I'm very pleased, and I shall assist them in every way. The sooner the better."

The BHA said the decision was made after consultation with the Irish Turf Club and followed the eight charges, including possession of banned animal drugs, brought against the 49-year-old trainer before the District Court.

The charges followed a visit to Mr Fenton's yard at Garryduff, South Lodge, Carrick-on-Suir, by Department of Agriculture officials more than two years ago. Among the banned animal substances allegedly found on Mr Fenton's yard was the anabolic steroid Nitrotain, which is designed to improve horses' muscle mass, strength and stamina.

The case was adjourned until March 20 next.

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Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown, said the BHA was more welcome than ever to pay a visit to the yard where they have their Cheltenham hopeful in training.

"We wrote to the BHA today to ask them to come and test Philip's horses, so it is what we wanted," said Mr O'Leary. "We have absolutely nothing to hide and hopefully this will help clear a few things up."

Mr Fenton's team for Cheltenham also includes leading Coral Cup contender Dunguib.

However, one of Mr Fenton's owners, Barry Connell, confirmed his star two-time Grade One winner The Tullow Tank would be scratched from the festival and would not run until the case had been resolved.

The Irish Turf Club's Denis Egan said it would be accompanying the BHA on its visit to Mr Fenton's premises. Under racing rules, the BHA can test horses entered in UK races regardless of their location.

"Part of the Irish Turf Club's testing regime is that all winners are tested – during that period Fenton had many winners all tested and all negative," said Mr Egan, with Last Instalment testing negative for any substances following his Hennessy Gold Cup victory at Leopardstown on February 9.

Paul Bittar, BHA chief executive, said the body wanted to take steps to "uphold public confidence in the relevant races at the Cheltenham festival, and the sport in general".

"The testing of the Fenton-trained horses will form a part of the decision-making process as to how best to achieve this objective," said Mr Bittar.

Irish Independent

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