Jersey pony doping saga

  • It was a story that made headlines across the country last year — the mother who allegedly drugged rival ponies at a show where her son was competing — and the saga took a fresh twist last week.

    The claims were made by fellow parents at a show in St Lawrence, Jersey, last autumn (news, 21 September 2006). It was alleged that one young competitor’s mother slipped the sedative acepromazine (ACP) among Polo mints and fed them to several ponies at the show.

    Four ponies competing at the BSJA Jersey event then tested positive for ACP, but a police investigation was dropped because the allegations did not contravene Jersey law.

    But H&H has learned that an independent inquiry into the allegations, conducted by a local lawyer, policeman and show judge, and based on interviews with witnesses, will be published imminently. Three families are expected to pursue private legal action as a result.

    The accused mother’s vet, Charles Gruchy, was one of those interviewed. He revealed that his “valued client” had instructed him to release her files to the inquiry.

    He explained: “She was more than happy for me to divulge all the information I have on her horses — including any prescriptions that may have been issued.”

    Philip Billington, a Jersey resident and a BSJA judge and course-designer, said the report had been handed to David Robinson, chairman of BSJA Jersey.

    Mr Robinson himself was unavailable for comment, but Mr Billington said: “David wants to seek legal advice before releasing the findings. The report is likely to have an impact on what the families do, so he is being cautious.

    “We know some ponies were doped, but what we don’t know is when the doping took place or who did it.”

    Mr Billington admitted to a change in atmosphere at local shows since the alleged doping took place.

    He said: “Ponies don’t get left on their own much now.”

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 August, ’07)

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