Trainer Johnson banned after horse-welfare breaches

Horse trainer Howard Johnson has had his licence revoked for four years after being found in breach of racing’s rules relating to horse welfare.

Horse trainer Howard Johnson has had his licence revoked for four years after being found in breach of racing’s rules relating to horse welfare.

Johnson, who also faced charges of administering steroids to three horses in his care, was chiefly held accountable for running a horse, Striking Article, eight times after he had undergone a palmar neurectomy.

The procedure involves severing nervous connection to the lower leg to cause numbness. It is banned under the Rules of Racing on welfare grounds.

Johnson, 58, claimed he was unaware of the rule stating he should not have run the horse.

The neurectomy to Striking Article’s left-foreleg came to light following a post-mortem carried out after the horse was pulled up and euthanised at Musselburgh on February 7, 2010.

Striking Article underwent the procedure in April 2008 yet ran eight times afterwards.

Johnson was also charged under a separate investigation in relation to the administration of laurabolin, an anabolic steroid containing nandrolone, to three other horses.

A British Horseracing Authority inquiry into the matter concluded last week after the disciplinary panel was unable to hear all of the evidence at a two-day hearing in July.

The parties involved were informed of the findings at its conclusion, but any decision on penalty was delayed until all paperwork had been completed by the disciplinary panel, and the results were only made public today.

Johnson, whose principal owner is former Sage computer magnate Graham Wylie, has held a licence since 1984, and resides at White Lea Farm, Crook in England.

Wylie has already transferred six of his horses to champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ stables in Somerset, although that was reportedly unconnected with the Johnson hearing.

Johnson and Wylie’s most noteworthy victories have revolved around the fine staying hurdler Inglis Drever, three times a winner of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.

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