By Simon Jackson
The British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) has found no evidence that horses trained by Philip Fenton were administered anabolic steroids, clearing the way for Last Instalment to line up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Confirmation that 7-1 shot Last Instalment would line-up in the Gold Cup was delayed when the BHA instigated an investigation after the Ireland-based trainer was revealed to be facing charges for possession of unauthorised animal remedies, including anabolic steroids, following an inspection by the Irish Department of Agriculture.
The hearing relating to the discovery was adjourned by the Irish authorities until after the Cheltenham Festival. But the BHA has since tested all of the horses with Cheltenham entries and found no evidence that any of the horses in question have been administered with any substances which would be considered prohibited for an in-training test.
“Our objective upon hearing about the charges faced by Philip Fenton was to maintain the integrity of, and ensure public confidence in, the relevant races at the Cheltenham Festival,” BHA chief executive, Paul Bittar, said.
“Hence, the priority was to obtain all available information to inform our decision as to whether there was a justified and justifiable concern that any of the horses trained by Fenton had been administered with anabolic steroids.
“The findings of this investigation have not given us a reason to believe that any of the Fenton-trained horses [Dunguib, Last Instalment, Value At Risk] entered for Cheltenham have been administered with performance-enhancing substances.
“Therefore there was no basis, legal or otherwise, on which to prevent the horses from running.
“Our investigation included testing of the horses with entries for Cheltenham, using both blood and hair screening methods. This testing was fast-tracked at HFL Sport Science, Newmarket, and the tests showed no presence of anabolic steroids or anything else untoward.
“These facts were further supported by the individual circumstances surrounding each horse, including their training and testing histories, as well as the interview which took place between members of our Integrity team and Fenton.
“While being respectful of the ongoing legal proceedings that Fenton remains subject to in Ireland, the team responsible for this investigation gathered all of the available evidence efficiently and effectively. This is now a matter for the Irish criminal justice system and the Irish Turf Club, with which we have coordinated throughout.
”The misuse of medication and the threat posed by the use of performance-enhancing drugs are matters we treat very seriously. In addition to doubling the scale of our testing-in-training programme, we are progressing and will soon publish the findings of a report commissioned to establish standards in Britain which exceed the newly accepted minimum international standards in these areas.”
Read Horse Talk with Simon Jackson each day at London24 for the latest horse racing news.