Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 17 November 2018

Irish Grand National-winning jockey banned over cocaine

Ger Fox after he won the Irish Grand National in 2016. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Ger Fox after he won the Irish Grand National in 2016. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Dean Gray

Trainer Gavin Cromwell vowed to support Ger Fox, as the Irish Grand National-winning jockey was named among three riders to receive a two-year ban after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine.

Along with amateur riders Roger Quinlan and Danny Benson, Mr Fox, who won the Fairyhouse showpiece aboard the Mouse Morris-trained Rogue Angel in 2016, was found guilty by a Turf Club referrals committee.

Fox was suspended for two years, but the committee said it would review the matter again in five-and-a-half months, providing he "submits to a random testing programme" and "continues to have the support of his employer, Gavin Cromwell".

Mr Cromwell, trainer of dual Grade One-winning mare Jer's Girl and exciting juvenile Espoir D'Allen, has given Mr Fox several rides and employs him as his assistant.

"I don't condone what he has done, but everyone is entitled to a second chance. He's a good worker and a great asset to the yard. Hopefully he'll learn from this," the trainer said.

Mr Quinlan had 21 months of his ban suspended as long as he "does not breach the same rule again during the period of suspension". Mr Benson's suspension will be assessed in six months if he "positively engages" in a programme of rehabilitation.

In total, eight jockeys were tested after a meeting at Galway in October, with Mr Fox, Mr Quinlan and Mr Benson returning positive urine samples.

The referrals committee said it took into account "a number of mitigating factors" when it came to the penalties imposed on them.

The Turf Club has vowed to stamp out drug abuse among jockeys by increasing the starting penalty to four years in future.

"We can't have another night like tonight where we had to deal with the referral of three riders, out of the eight riders that were randomly tested, who tested positive for banned substances on the same day," said the referrals committee.

Irish Independent

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