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After the first day of an FEI tribunal concerning doping allegations against last year’s Burghley winner Jock Paget and Kevin McNab, the president of Equestrians Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) said it had been “difficult for the riders”.

Jock and Kevin have both been suspended from competition after their horses, Clifton Promise and Clifton Pinot, tested positive for the banned substance reserpine at Burghley Horse Trials last September.

Neither of the riders chose to comment when leaving the hearing — which started at 9am and did not finish until after 6pm.

The president of Equestrian Sport New Zealand Chris Hodson said that it had been a “long day” but could not reveal any further details on what had been discussed in the “confidential” hearing.

“What I can tell you is what has to happen,” he said “The riders are presumed to be guilty and they have to prove their innocence so that is why we take a long time.

“They have to prove 2 things. Firstly how the drug got in the horse. Because there is no question that the drug is in the horse, so they have to prove how it got there.

“If they can prove that, then they have to go on to prove that it was not their fault.   “It’s difficult for the riders but we are doing our best with it.”

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It is expected that the hearing will finish at midday tomorrow.

It is still unclear how long it will be for a verdict to be reached with some suggestion that it might take several weeks.

“There is some discussion about when the decision might be available,” Chris confirmed. “I think we will get an indication tomorrow which I will specifically ask for permission to be passed onto you [the media].”