Dermot Weld, trainer of dual Derby winner Harzand, said yesterday that he will consider an appeal against a €1,000 fine imposed by the Turf Club’s referrals committee after one of his horses failed a post-race drugs test.
A post-race sample from Va Pensiero, a filly who was first past the post in a race at Dundalk on 13 May, was found to contain the banned substance 3-Hydroxy Lidocaine, a metabolite of Lidocaine, which is often used in racing stables as a local anaesthetic.
Weld, who is a qualified vet, told a hearing of the referrals committee that he was mystified as to how the substance could have been in Va Pensiero’s system. Describing her as “a tough horse who is very sound”, Weld said that she had never received any medication and that he was “completely puzzled” by the positive test.
The committee also heard evidence from Joe O’Donnell, Weld’s vet, that the levels of 3-Hydroxy Lidocaine found in Va Pensiero suggested that she had been administered Lidocaine shortly before her race. However, he also confirmed Weld’s evidence that no medications had ever been administered to Va Pensiero.
Andrew Tyrrell, the Turf Club’s veterinary officer, told the hearing that he had inspected Weld’s medicines register at his stable on The Curragh and found that it was “meticulously kept”. He also testified that he had found no evidence of Lidocaine ever being administered to a horse in Weld’s yard.
“I’m completely baffled by the whole business and I’m seriously considering appealing the fine,” Weld said after the hearing. “That’s all I have to say on the matter.”
Meanwhile Benkei, a winner on this track last August and fourth, over an inadequate trip at Sligo on Tuesday, justified hefty support for trainer Harry Rogers and owner Jerry Nolan in the McCabes Misubishi Motors Handicap on the first day of the three-day Bellewstown meeting last night.
Strongly ridden by Pat Smullen, the 9/4 favourite edged past Face Value early in the straight and tackled by Sweet Cherry (receiving 24lb.), the tough six-year-old stayed on dourly to prevail by a head.
“He doesn’t want soft or fast ground. He won in Galway last year and we’ll probably head back there, for the amateur handicap, if things go well. Later on, we’ll probably look at the Irish Cesarewitch – the strong pace would suit him – and he’ll be going hurdling at some stage.”
Apprentice Oisin Orr, who is based with Eddie Lynam, took the riding honours thanks to a double on John Nicholson’s Nora Batt in the Guinness Inter Vintners Pub Challenge Race Handicap over five furlongs and Phoenix Twist in the Lougher Stables Handicap. After Nora Batt held the persistent challenge of last year’s winner Catwilldo, trainer John Nicholson declared: “I rode my first winner here forty-seven years ago, a horse called Truly Merry and she’s my third winner, from just three runners, on the flat here –a fair record by any standards.
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