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Gordon Elliott fined in ‘thriller’ Cheltenham Competition contamination case


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  • Coach Gordon Elliott was fined £1,000 in a “thriller” contamination case involving the horse who completed third within the 2022 Unibet Champion Hurdle on the Cheltenham Competition.

    Zanahiyr, who crossed the road 4 and a half lengths behind winner Honeysuckle, examined constructive for 3-hydroxylidocaine – a metabolite of lidocaine – in a post-race urine pattern ultimately yr’s Competition. Mr Elliott opted to have the B-sample examined, which confirmed the discovering.

    Lidocaine is a prescription-only veterinary drugs, predominately used as a neighborhood anaesthetic. It’s also obtainable in over-the-counter merchandise with no prescription for people. Its use just isn’t banned by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), however it can’t be current in a horse’s system on raceday and has a 72-hour detection time.

    The case was heard this afternoon (8 February) by the BHA’s unbiased disciplinary panel, made up of chairman David Fish KC, Lyn Griffiths and Ian Stark.
    Mr Elliott accepted the breach and the disqualification, however how the substance got here to be within the horse’s system stays a thriller.

    The listening to hinged on culpability. The BHA claimed that the shortage of coaching for Mr Elliott’s employees on tips on how to forestall contamination meant that he couldn’t be thought of to have “low culpability”.

    However Rory Mac Neice, representing Mr Elliott, disagreed. He argued that the BHA’s thorough investigation discovered no hint of lidocaine at Mr Elliott’s yard, and that the drug was not current in any remedy taken by the 27 employees concerned with the horses on the Competition. He added that the “BHA’s personal investigation” discovered nothing to counsel the trigger was linked to something at Mr Elliott’s yard or his employees at Cheltenham. With that in thoughts, he argued that because the horse was almost definitely to have come into contact with lidocaine at Cheltenham stables, that the individuals the horse might have come into contact with there have been exterior of Mr Elliott’s management.

    Charlotte Davison, who introduced the BHA’s case, instructed the listening to that Mr Elliott “co-operated totally” with the investigation and promptly admitted the breach.

    The listening to was instructed how as a part of the BHA’s investigation, officers from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board made an unannounced go to to Mr Elliott’s yard. No traces of lidocaine have been present in any of the medicines, information of previous remedy, feed or dietary supplements.

    Mr Elliott additionally offered remedy information of the 27 individuals concerned in travelling with and caring for his horses on the Cheltenham Competition, and none of those substances contained lidocaine.

    “That is what has been termed previously a ‘thriller case’,” stated Miss Davison.

    She added that though Mr Elliott submits that he falls inside the low culpability vary, the BHA disagrees.

    “Mr Elliott, the BHA submits, has failed to make sure that any actual, not to mention ample precautions, have been in place on his yard – by that we clearly embody travelling procedures when racing away – to stop potential contamination from employees taking remedy,” she stated.

    “Throughout his interview, Mr Elliott described safety at Cheltenham as ‘second to none’. And in any occasion, the foundations of racing make it clear that it’s Mr Elliott, and Mr Elliott alone, who’s accountable for the safety of his horses.

    “The BHA submits that Mr Elliott has no correct procedures in place to stop cross-contamination going down by members of employees taking remedy.”

    A part of an interview with Mr Elliott was learn out, the place he was requested about any employees coaching round stopping cross-contamination. He stated employees have been usually spoken to about not urinating in stables “and that kind of stuff”, and added he’ll “need to be tightening up on it”.

    Miss Davison added that though that is Mr Elliott’s first breach of anti-doping guidelines in Britain, he has had a earlier case, in Eire in 2018, in dissimilar circumstances, so she stated this case can’t be thought of a primary offence.

    Mr Mac Neice disagreed, declaring that British guidelines make no reference to different jurisdictions.

    “It’s clear from the investigating officer’s report that Mr Elliott and his employees have totally and wholeheartedly cooperated with the BHA,” he stated, including that they have been “as anxious to search out the trigger” because the BHA.

    “What emerges from the BHA’s complete investigation is that this: the BHA concluded in its personal phrases that there was ‘little to no danger’ of contamination from the feed, dietary supplements or components saved or used at Mr Elliott’s yard, nor from any remedy stored on the yard. In different phrases, the BHA’s investigation has to all intents and functions discounted the opportunity of any cross-contamination from these sources.”

    The listening to heard the horse travelled from Mr Elliott’s yard in Eire to Cheltenham on 12 March and was stabled there till returning residence on 15 March.
    “There’s a vital distinction by way of the horse’s safety whereas in his secure at residence at Mr Elliott’s yard and whereas stabled in any racecourse stables – that isn’t a criticism, it’s a truth,” stated Mr Mac Neice.

    “When at residence, the horse is underneath the entire management of Mr Elliott by way of who can come into contact with him. For those who or I have been to wander into Mr Elliott’s yard in Eire one afternoon, we’d be stopped, requested what we have been doing and requested to go away.”

    He added that Mr Elliott has no management who enters the racecourse stabling space, including that that is the “unavoidable nature” of racecourse stabling and throughout the Competition, it’s busy.

    “Different horses and people from unconnected yards and locations might solely innocently come into contact with, or be in very shut proximity to, the horse,” he stated.

    “We are saying that’s the overwhelmingly almost definitely reason behind the antagonistic discovering. Completely unintentional, unintended, cross-contamination throughout the interval the horse was stabled on the racecourse stables throughout final yr’s Cheltenham Competition.”

    Addressing the BHA’s submission that Mr Elliott didn’t have procedures to stop contamination in place, Mr Mac Neice identified that there is no such thing as a requirement to take action, and that the BHA additionally doesn’t require that of anybody coming into racecourse stables.

    Summing up, Mr Fish stated the panel was of the place that Mr Elliott’s culpability “falls into the low class”.

    “Balancing the mitigating and aggravating options, the panel takes the view {that a} nice of £1,000 is acceptable,” he stated.

    Zanahiyr was disqualified, with prize cash returned, and the placings will likely be amended.

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