John Gosden has urged racing’s ruling body to adopt “a more collegiate approach” after he was fined £1,000 because one of his runners still had joint-pain medication in its system when placed on Champions Day last year. Royal Line has now been disqualified from third place in the Long Distance Cup because Triamcinolone Acetonide was found in a sample taken on raceday, 17 days after he was injected with Adcortyl, containing TCA, in the joints of his hind legs in response to some inflammation found by Gosden’s vet.
Gosden said he had been very surprised it was still in the horse’s system, as he and his vet, Benoit Herinckx, had been working to a 14-day withdrawal period for TCA for decades. The champion trainer in British Flat racing for the past three years, Gosden suggested improved lab machinery is now finding ever tinier traces of medication while the British Horseracing Authority has done nothing to clarify withdrawal times for legitimate medication.
“We are talking about an accepted and completely legal, documented medication to benefit the horse,” the trainer told a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday. “We are not talking about anything underhand, or where we’ve tried to cheat the rules.”
While he praised the BHA for its effectiveness in policing the sport, he said it “abdicates almost all responsibility” for withdrawal times, “leaving vets at the coalface with the lingering feeling that they are running trials for the regulator and suffering the consequences, along with their clients, of any adverse finding.
“I am very conservative with my use of any medication and the horse’s welfare is paramount. I followed all guidelines and advice. I feel exceptionally let down by this whole process.
“The BHA have got to give us more help on this matter. There is no point recalibrating machines and literally just trying to trap us all. I do feel that I’m walking in a minefield now. I would prefer a more collegiate approach with the BHA. I’d like to have an approach where we work together. We don’t want to damage the image of this industry unnecessarily.”
Presenting the BHA’s case, Charlotte Davison said “inadequate allowance was made for the particular circumstances of this horse and the substance was administered too close to the race”. She said the BHA did not publish a single detection time for such medication because withdrawal times can be affected by a number of factors, including the number of joints being treated, the quantity of medication administered, the degree of inflammation and whether other medication is given at the same time.
Davison said trainers had been repeatedly told that a 14-day mandatory stand-down period, specified by the BHA in 2015, was not the same thing as a withdrawal period. Based on initial statements made by Gosden and Herinckx, she claimed they had adopted a “one-size fits all” approach to withdrawal times for TCA and should have recognised that Royal Line’s case might take longer.
She suggested Gosden should have used an elective test before Champions Day, but both trainer and vet indicated there were limitations to the elective testing system, Herinckx saying it is “nowhere near as easy to use as has been suggested”.
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