sport

BHA to test Fenton horses

Officials from the BHA are to visit Philip Fenton to interview the trainer and conduct tests on horses in his care holding Cheltenham entries.

Fenton has been in the headlines in recent days after being charged with possessing unlicensed substances, including anabolic steroids, following a visit to his yard by the Department of Agriculture in January 2012, with a court case adjourned until next month.

His horses on track for Cheltenham include former Champion Bumper winner Dunguib and Irish Hennessy hero Last Instalment, who is third-favourite for the Betfred Gold Cup.

The British Horseracing Authority said that following consultation with the Irish Turf Club, it had been agreed that samples from Fenton's horses will be collected by the BHA and fast-track testing will take place at HFL Sport Science, Newmarket, with the results of the tests available next week.

A statement from the BHA added that in addition to the sampling, Fenton will be interviewed and that the visit will form part of an ongoing process of gathering all relevant information regarding this issue.

BHA chief executive Paul Bittar said: "Following the adjournment of the court case, we want to take steps which serve to uphold public confidence in the relevant races at the Cheltenham Festival, and the sport in general. The testing of the Fenton-trained horses will form a part of the decision making process as to how best to achieve this objective.

"Any development or set of circumstances which brings the integrity of our sport into question is of considerable concern. The events of 2013 highlighted the need to increase the deterrent against the misuse of drugs and medication, and in particular anabolic steroids. Since then significant steps have been taken towards achieving a set of international minimum standards, with a number of jurisdictions adopting a zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of steroids in racing.

"Meanwhile in Britain we have announced a doubling in the scale of our testing-in-training programme and we are looking forward to publishing in the spring the findings of a report commissioned to establish standards in Britain which exceed the minimum international standard.

"Although the inspection at Philip Fenton's yard took place in Ireland over two years ago, and therefore before recent upgrades in deterrents in this country, there is no room for complacency. We consider it incumbent upon all involved with British and Irish racing, not just the authorities, to demonstrate their opposition to the misuse of drugs and medication, in particular anabolic steroids, and be open and transparent about all practices."

Last Instalment is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, whose supremo Michael O'Leary reiterated on Sunday that he would be happy for his horses to be subjected to BHA testing, should it be required.