Fenton horses cleared for Cheltenham

The British Horseracing Authority has cleared trainer Philip Fenton’s horses to run at next week’s Cheltenham festival after finding “no evidence” any of them has been given performance-enhancing substances.

Fenton horses cleared for Cheltenham

The results follow a visit last week to Fenton’s stables outside Carrick-on-Suir by inspectors from the BHA who took samples from all his Cheltenham-entered horses and also interviewed the trainer (pictured) himself.

The BHA made the move in a bid to allay public concern about the prospect of Mr Fenton’s horses - including Betfred Gold Cup third favourite Last Instalment - running at jump racing’s biggest festival while a drugs-related court case remains unresolved.

That court case relates to a January 2012 inspection of Fenton’s yard.

However, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Last Instalment has a history of leg problems and connections have stressed the Irish Hennessy hero must have suitable ground conditions to take his chance in the blue riband.

Gigginstown’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “This horse will not run unless the ground is soft. There is a bit of rain forecast next week and we’re hoping it materialises.”

O’Leary added of the BHA verdict: “We fully expected this decision to be reached. We’ve been very happy to assist the BHA and the Turf Club in reaching this decision. What we hope now is that this has cleared everything up.

“We would never tolerate any of our horses being given any illegal substances and we are happy in the knowledge that Philip never gave our horses illegal substances. ”

In a statement yesterday, the BHA said its investigation involved gathering all available information, including the testing of the horses with Cheltenham entries, an interview with the trainer, liaison with the Irish Turf Club, and analysis of the location and testing histories of the horses.

“BHA has 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,” it said.

“The findings of this investigation have not given us a reason to believe that any of the Fenton-trained horses 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.”

Mr Fenton faces eight charges relating to the possession of unlicensed animal remedies at his yard at Garryduff on January 18, 2012. The charges include possession of Nitrotain and Ilium Stanabolic, which contain anabolic steroids, as well as possession of antibiotics for which there was no prescription from a vet.

The case is due to come before the court again on March 20 when some legal points are expected to be discussed before Judge Terence Finn.

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