Trainer Martin Keighley has said he is “delighted” to be cleared of any wrong-doing by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) after his Cheltenham Festival winner Any Currency failed a drug test.
Any Currency was today (25 August) disqualified from the Glenfarclas Cross-Country race on 16 March and stripped of the title.
But the BHA disciplinary panel, made up of William Barlow (chair), Diana Powles and Roger Bellamy, found Mr Keighley had taken “all reasonable measures” as a trainer and did not impose a fine.
“I’m delighted that the panel has vindicated my actions by deciding not to impose a fine against me,” said Mr Keighley following the decision.
“Naturally, still to be punished by losing the race in these circumstances is difficult to take, but we must now look forward to the next Festival and Any Currency’s next run, where I and my team will be all the more determined to win.”
Today’s hearing followed a positive test of the 13-year-old gelding’s urine for prohibited substance triamcinolone acetonide (TCA), a synthetic corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory and analgesic action (news, 7 July), after his win.
Mr Keighley, who attended the hearing, exercised his right to have the “B” sample tested, which confirmed the original finding.
Under BHA rules, the substance can legitimately be used in equine practice and horses in training for therapeutic reasons, but must not be present in a horse’s system on raceday.
Danielle Sharkey, who presented the BHA’s case, told the hearing that investigating officers interviewed Mr Keighley, his wife Belinda and assistant trainer Jamie Goldstein on 14 April.
Mr Keighley explained it was standard practice for equine physiotherapist Maggie Turner to check any of his horses who were due to race in the future.
After trotting up Any Currency on 1 February, Ms Turner reported the horse was “definitely stiff through [his] hocks” and raised the question over whether or not to inject the joints.
Mr Keighley reported this to his vet, Jeremy Swan, who visited the yard two days later. Mr Swan agreed with Ms Turner’s observations and injected the horse’s hocks.
Mr Swan was aware of the intention to run the horse at the Festival and indicated that the proximity of the treatment to the race would not be an issue.
The National Trainers Federation medication record on 3 February 2016 states the administration of Adcortyl (a brand name for TCA) into the gelding’s hock along with Amikin, an antibiotic, and sedatives, Domidine and Torbugesic.
Under BHA rules, the minimum time between TCA treatment and when a horse can race again is 14 clear days. However, the BHA stated that minimum stand-down periods do not necessarily equate to the detection time.
Jacqueline Brown, representing Mr Keighley, admitted a breach of the BHA rule regarding presence of a prohibited substance (rule (G)2.1). She argued that her client had met all his obligations as a trainer, but despite such efforts the horse had tested positive.
A statement from the BHA said: “The panel felt that Mr Keighley had taken all reasonable measures and that the presence of TCA in the horse after 41 days was exceptional and, therefore, a fine should not be imposed.”
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The panel also ruled that no contribution be made towards the cost of the “B” sample analysis and that any prize money be returned.
The decision means that Josies Orders, ridden by Nina Carberry, now takes the title with Bless The Wings in second and Quantitativeeasing third.