The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced the conclusion of its investigation to determine whether horses trained by Philip Fenton should be allowed to run at the Cheltenham Festival.
This investigation was instigated after the Ireland-based trainer was revealed to be facing charges for the possession of unauthorised animal remedies, including anabolic steroids, following an Irish Department of Agriculture inspection in January 2012, and the hearing relating to this matter was adjourned at Carrick-on-Suir Court until 20 March 2014.
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.
Paul Bittar, BHA Chief Executive, said:
“Our objective upon hearing about the charges faced by Philip Fenton was to maintain the integrity of, and ensure public confidence in, the relevant races at the Cheltenham Festival. Hence, the priority was to obtain all available information to inform our decision as to whether there was a justified and justifiable concern that any of the horses trained by Fenton had been administered with anabolic steroids.
“The findings of this investigation have not given us a reason to believe that any of the Fenton-trained horses entered for Cheltenham have been administered with performance-enhancing substances. Therefore there was no basis, legal or otherwise, on which to prevent the horses from running.
“Our investigation included testing of the horses with entries for Cheltenham, using both blood and hair screening methods. This testing was fast-tracked at HFL Sport Science, Newmarket, and the tests showed no presence of anabolic steroids or anything else untoward. These facts were further supported by the individual circumstances surrounding each horse, including their training and testing histories, as well as the interview which took place between members of our Integrity team and Fenton.
“While being respectful of the ongoing legal proceedings that Fenton remains subject to in Ireland, the team responsible for this investigation gathered all of the available evidence efficiently and effectively. This is now a matter for the Irish criminal justice system and the Irish Turf Club, with which we have coordinated throughout.
”The misuse of medication and the threat posed by the use of performance-enhancing drugs are matters we treat very seriously. In addition to doubling the scale of our testing-in-training programme, we are progressing and will soon publish the findings of a report commissioned to establish standards in Britain which exceed the newly accepted minimum international standards in these areas.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The following details outline the locations and recent testing history of each of the horses which hold Cheltenham entries:
DUNGUIB raced and won at Gowran Park on 19 February 2011 when he was tested, returning a negative sample. He then raced again at Cheltenham on 15 March 2011 before going out of training in May 2011, injured, and did not return to Fenton’s ‘in training’ list until January 2014.
LAST INSTALMENT was in training with Philip Fenton when the Department of Agriculture inspection took place in January 2012. He raced and won on 23 October 2011, 20 November 2011, 28 December 2011 & 12 February 2012 and returned negative drug tests on each occasion. The horse then went out of training in February 2012, and did not return into training until January 2014.
VALUE AT RISK was not in training with Philip Fenton in January 2012 when the inspection took place. The horse was foaled in 2009 and therefore in January 2012 he was three years old and not registered as in training in any location. He went to the June 2012 Tattersalls sales, where he was unsold and he first ran for Philip Fenton on 23 April 2013.
2. BHA regrets that it cannot conduct broadcast interviews regarding this matter owing to the ongoing legal proceedings and criminal charges faced by Philip Fenton in Ireland.
3. BHA published in December details of an upgraded Anti-Doping Policy, which included a doubling of testing-in-training: http://www.britishhorseracing.presscentre.com/Press-Releases/BHA-enhances-anti-doping-Policy-467.aspx
As part of this Policy we stated our commitment to investment in research including the continuation of hair sample analysis techniques.
The technique is already employed in some testing-in-training visits. We are satisfied with the reliability of the technique for analysis purposes, with ongoing work exploring how the technique can be integrated into our routine regulatory framework.
For more information contact:
British Horseracing Authority