Showing judge Lucinda Sims has been fined £1,000 by Sport Horse Breeding of GB (SHBGB) and disqualified from three classes at the Royal Bath and West Show after her horse tested positive for the banned substance bute.
Mrs Sims’ ride Herngate Buccaneer was randomly dope-tested by a SHBGB vet at the show on 28 May, where he had won the ladies’ hunter championship.
Robert Warden, chairman of SHBGB, confirmed the nine-year-old gelding had tested positive for the pain-killer phenylbutasone (bute).
“We have had allegations that horses have been doped at competitions so we brought in random testing last year as a deterrent,” said Mr Warden.
“We picked shows around the country to get the message across that we ‘re testing.”
Herngate Buccaneer is the only horse to test positive so far.
Mrs Sims runs the Harroway House Stud in Andover, Hampshire, which was started by her grandmother, the famous teacher and side-saddle doyenne Betty Skelton.
She told H&H she is “absolutely mortified” by the case. “I cannot blame anyone except myself,” she said. “I am guilty of foolishness and thoughtlessness.”
She explained that the 16.2hh bay, known as Buster, managed to eat some of his companion Harry’s dinner that contained a sachet of bute for the pony’s laminitis.
“As soon as the vet said he was going to test Buster at the show the next day I knew he was going to be positive. It was a complete fiasco of my own making. But I feel very hurt that they have made this public.”
Mrs Sims is a judge for the British Show Horse Association and is due to judge the hacks at the Horse of the Year Show.
She formerly undertook mare gradings for SHBGB, but has resigned from these duties since the case.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (4 September, ’08)