‘A mental low point’: breeder speaks out after stallion loses prestigious title over failed dope test

  • A stallion has been disqualified from a competition – resulting in the loss of a prestigious title – after failing a dope test.

    Last September Bernadette Brune’s San To Alati was crowned the winner of the four-year-old stallion class at the 2022 Bundeschampionate, Germany, under rider Mareike Mimberg. This month the German equestrian federation (FN) announced San To Alati has been disqualified owing to the prohibited substance decyclopropylmethylfirocoxib, a metabolite of firocoxib (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication) being found during a medication check.

    “San To Alati has now been disqualified and thus loses the title of Bundeschampion of four-year-old stallions,” said a federation spokesman.

    FN added that the disciplinary procedure, in which it is to be clarified whether San To Alati’s rider is at fault as the “responsible person” and whether action will be taken against her, is “still ongoing”.

    FN legal advisor Constanze Winters said the disqualification had initially been disputed, but “those affected” did not succeed in refuting the result of the medication test – and therefore the disqualification has been announced.

    “Fair sport is one of the prioritised goals of the FN. For this reason, the FN carried out a total of 74 medication controls on participating horses at their own tournament, the Bundeschampionat in Warendorf, last year.”

    Bernadette, of Brune Stud, told H&H they were “very surprised” at the result of the test as they had bought San To Alati two weeks before Bundeschampionate – and he did not arrive in their stable until October 2022, after the competition.

    “Then when we had him in the stable and he was just fine, healthy and great to ride with the same quality as on the Bundeschampionat. So it made no sense why he would get medication whatsoever,” she said.

    Bernadette added that San To Alati “remains a great breeding stallion” and they will concentrate on his sport career for the future. She also confirmed he will go for his stallion test in Verden on 15 March.

    In a statement San To Alati’s breeder Kerstin Klose – who previously co-owned him with Philipp Hess – said the situation was “not only very sad”, but a “mental low point” in her career so far.

    “Philipp and I have owned this wonderful horse together. San To Alati has had an exceptional and successful sports career up to the Bundeschampionat,” she said.

    Kerstin added that Mareike Mimberg, Philipp’s wife, “stepped in” to ride San To Alati while his usual rider and trainer Stefanie Wolf was recovering from an injury sustained earlier in the year.

    “I am incredibly sorry that Mareike now has to deal with a disciplinary procedure as a rider,” she said.

    This is a heavy burden for me because I had the idea of asking Mareike to act as my deputy. But it is also a heavy burden for me because I am absolutely in favour of clean sport. I would never tolerate one of my horses being given illegal substances to compete.”

    Kerstin added that San To Alati was in the care of another stables last year – the then base of Stefanie – and that he was “always healthy” and had no pain-related problems. She said there was no reason to administer medication, no instruction had been given to the stables to administer medication, and no vet had visited the horse.

    Kerstin said she does not know how the drug got into San To Alati’s system.

    “We consider ourselves innocent in every respect. I don’t see how we could have prevented this. It is impossible to clarify the true facts and how the administration came about and to arrest someone responsible for it. I never expected to be drawn into such a process,” she said.

    Kerstin told H&H everything she does is “for my horses” and they continue to seek “clarification”.

    “The horse is simply fantastic, has a very loving character, a rare charisma and, above all, is extremely healthy. I’m sure he will continue on his way,” she said.

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