Sexton to face lengthy ban after positive cocaine test
Former champion conditional Kevin Sexton tested positive for cocaine in Galway and is set for a lengthy ban.
The rider, who recently was released from the yard of a top trainer, failed a drugs test at the festival in Ballybrit. Both his 'A' and 'B' samples tested positive for cocaine.
The Turf Club would make no comment on the matter but it is understood that the rider will appear before the integrity body in the next three weeks or so. He is likely to face a suspension from racing of a minimum of six months.
The highly-talented Co Kildare native, who has won the Troytown Chase in the past, has been used by some of the top owners in jumps racing but may now have to rebuild his career.
Racing, meanwhile, was the recipient of its greatest ever state allocation in yesterday's budget, with €64m coming the way of the sport in 2017.
The figure is up €4.8m on the 2016 equivalent and will ensure stability with regard to prize-money, which has increased in recent years, for 2017. However, it was notable that the Department of Agriculture's press release yesterday had more than 1,250 words but not one on its horseracing allocation.
In a separate press release, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle said: "I am also pleased to announce the intention to fulfil the commitment to the Horse and Greyhound Fund for 2017, which will increase expenditure to €16m next year for Bord na gCon."
HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh said that the HRI welcomed the budget and that it was "good news for racing".
HRI's chairman Joe Keeling held a conference call with board members yesterday morning, where they were told of who will be designated speakers at tomorrow's meeting with the Agriculture Committee.
There is understood to be no choreographed approach and all board members, even those not designated to speak, can take questions from the relevant politicians at the committee meeting and speak freely.
Keeling, who enjoyed a winner as an owner on Monday at the Curragh, is not paid for his HRI work, and the board will be probed about the circumstances of Kavanagh getting a third term at the HRI helm.
Meanwhile, jockey Andrew Lynch aims to return for Down Royal's showcase two-day meeting at the start of next month. He visited his surgeon yesterday and will report back to him in two weeks' time, having been out with a broken bone in his arm.
Aidan O'Brien is set to run both Arc winner Found and the third, Order Of St George, on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday. O'Brien has yet to confirm that the duo will travel but it is understood that they are being trained with Saturday in mind.
Order Of St George is set to run in the British Champions Long Distance Cup Stakes, a Group Two, while Found is set to renew rivalry with her Leopardstown conqueror Almanzor in the Group One British Champion Stakes.
Pat Smullen is bullish about his three rides for Dermot Weld in Forgotten Rules, Zhukova and Fascinating Rock. "All three have chances. I give Forgotten Rules a serious chance against Order Of St George," he said.
"Fascinating Rock could really do with rain and Almanzor was brilliant at Leopardstown in what felt like as good a race as I've ridden in. He's the one to beat but Fascinating Rock is well capable of getting in the mix.
"Zhukova has done nothing but improve," he added. "She has a serious chance."