sport

Gigginstown backing for Fenton

Leading Irish jumps owners Gigginstown House Stud have offered their unyielding support to Philip Fenton.

The trainer has been charged with possession of anabolic steroids and other unlicensed substances.

Fenton is scheduled to appear at a County Tipperary court on Thursday to answer charges brought about by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine following an inspection of his yard on January 18, 2012.

The Carrick-on-Suir handler is responsible for leading Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Last Instalment, a superb winner of the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown for the Gigginstown operation.

Gigginstown's racing manager, Eddie O'Leary, said the case against Fenton was "an absolute storm in a teacup".

He told Press Association Sport: "I spoke to Philip on Monday and he's more embarrassed than anything else. We should remember that this all happened two and a half years ago.

"We support Philip wholeheartedly. He has never had a positive test for anything. You could not meet a straighter, and more honest, fellow."

Fenton's stock has been especially high of late following the exploits of Last Instalment and the 2009 Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Dunguib, who was victorious at Navan on Sunday.

The Tullow Tank is another Fenton-trained candidate for the Cheltenham Festival in March after winning three races, two of which were Grade Ones, this term.

O'Leary, brother of Ryanair supremo and fellow Gigginstown boss, Michael, is adamant Fenton will not be found guilty of any wrongdoing when the case is heard on Thursday morning at Carrick-on-Suir District Court.

He said: "I'm sure he'll be fine. All this is bureaucracy gone mad, jobs for the boys.

"It's the department (of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) trying to make work for themselves by wanting proper labels on every single bottle in every single yard.

"We spend whatever money on educating and qualifying vets, but the vast majority of department vets have no actual interest in being vets. All they want is to join the department and have a nice and easy nine-to-five job.

"Horses cannot be looked after nine to five. If a horse gets colic, you sometimes have to treat it yourself or it could be dead by the time the vet gets there.

"This is an absolute storm in a teacup and I'm sure most normal people will see this for what it is."

The Irish Courts Service confirmed in a summons notice that Fenton has been served with a series of charges in relation to animal remedies.

Should he be found guilty, punishments range from a maximum fine of 5,000 euro to a six-month term of imprisonment.

The Tullow Tank's owner Barry Connell refused to be drawn on the Fenton case when contacted on Tuesday morning.

He said: "I'm not going to discuss any of that. I have no comment to make."