Balnaslow cobalt case set for 2020
The case surrounding Balnaslow's victory in the 2018 Foxhunters' at Aintree and his positive test for elevated levels of the prohibited substance cobalt will drag on into next year after yesterday's hearing was adjourned.
Trainer Graham McKeever had sought to defend himself over the phone at a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) disciplinary hearing - "I really just want to get this wrapped up today" - before the Antrim handler was convinced to seek legal counsel.
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McKeever's case - which could see him banned from racing - surrounds two separate alleged breaches with the then 11-year-old's positive test for cobalt from a urine sample and a more serious charge of possible administration of a prohibited substance on race day.
A urine sample taken from Balnaslow at the Liverpool meeting was found to contain cobalt at a concentration of 213 nanograms per millilitre, more than twice the allowed threshold of 100ng.
The feed used by McKeever and given to Balnaslow on the day of the Aintree race came in for specific attention as it lists cobalt carbonate as a trace element (9.5mg/kg) and may be responsible for a cobalt spike in Balnaslow's urine sample.
Subsequent tests of the feed, and of horses including Balnaslow, at McKeever's yard revealed no traces of cobalt, leaving questions relating to alternative forms of administration or contamination.
A final date in 2020 when the panel will reconvene will be finalised in due course as the case around the biggest success of McKeever's training career continues to rumble on.
Meanwhile, the biggest Irish prize on offer today is the €25,000 Irishinjuredjockeys.com Handicap (5.45) at Dundalk where Irradiate (e/w) looks an interesting type on her handicap debut for Joseph O'Brien.
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