Irish trainer is cleared to race trio at Cheltenham
Published 06/03/2014 | 02:30
HORSE trainer Philip Fenton will be able to race his horses at Cheltenham after the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said it was satisfied there was no evidence they had received prohibited substances.
A statement from the authority confirmed that the three horses – Dunguib, Last Instalment and Value At Risk – have been cleared to take up their Cheltenham Festival entries.
Carrick-on-Suir-based Fenton is currently facing a number of criminal charges in relation to possession of illegal animal remedies, including anabolic steroids, following a raid by the Department of Agriculture on his yard in January 2012.
The case has been adjourned until March 20 to allow for legal submissions – almost a week after the close of the Cheltenham Festival.
In the meantime, the BHA has been liaising with the sport's domestic regulator – the Turf Club – in an effort to ascertain if it would be acceptable for Mr Fenton's horses to participate at the festival. Mr Fenton was interviewed as part of the process and both blood and hair samples were taken from all of his Cheltenham entries.
These included his recent Michael O'Leary-owned Hennessy Gold Cup hero Last Instalment, third favourite to secure a first Irish victory for eight years in next week's Gold Cup.
But Eddie O'Leary, racing manager of his brother's Gigginstown House Stud operation, said the injury-plagued nine-year-old may not run if the ground is not sufficiently soft.
The BHA statement read: "After a process of gathering all available information, which included testing of the horses with Cheltenham entries, an interview with the trainer, liaison with the Irish Turf Club, and analysis of the location and testing histories of the horses, BHA has found no evidence that any of the horses in question have been administered with any substances which would be considered prohibited for an in-training test.
"Therefore, on the basis of the evidence gathered and the legal advice obtained by BHA, the horses Dunguib, Last Instalment and Value At Risk have been cleared to take up their Cheltenham Festival entries."
Mr Fenton and fellow trainer Pat Hughes are awaiting trial for possession of illicit animal substances.
Both men have yet to enter a plea, though they are expected to contest the charges.