Racing: Pipe faces fine for dope test evasion

Martin Pipe faces another appearance before the disciplinary panel of the Jockey Club after refusing to let Tanterari, his 10-11 beaten favourite for the Knutsford Handicap Chase, enter the sampling boxes at Haydock yesterday.

Martin Pipe faces another appearance before the disciplinary panel of the Jockey Club after refusing to let Tanterari, his 10-11 beaten favourite for the Knutsford Handicap Chase, enter the sampling boxes at Haydock yesterday.

The Jockey Club's public relations director, John Maxse, confirmed that officials at the Club's Shaftesbury Avenue headquarters had been in touch with the champion trainer earlier this week after it had been brought to their attention that on two occasions last weekend, when Pipe horses had been selected for testing, the trainer had refused permission for them to go to the sampling unit.

Samples were taken from those two horses at the stabling block but Tanterari left Haydock yesterday without giving a sample after trailing in last of the five finishers.

Maxse said: "Mr Pipe was informed on Monday that this was not a policy that was acceptable and that if he continued to carry out this policy, we would have no option but to consider that those horses not being taken for testing were positive.

"He was told that in the event of this happening again he would be referred to London and the recommended range of penalty that we would ask the disciplinary panel to look at would be in line with the guidelines given to penalise the deliberate administration of a substance.

"That is a range of fine between £2,500 and £12,000. Those figures were included in the correspondence sent to Mr Pipe. We informed him that the fear of infection was not an acceptable excuse and that if he refused to have a horse tested we would have no option but to consider that a positive, as would happen in other sports."

Maxse added there had been a meeting this week at which the Animal Health Trust concluded there was no additional risk of infection to a horse by it going to the sampling unit.

Pipe defended his policy on his website yesterday, saying: "Winners and losers are all tested in the same dope box, one after the other. Winners are likely to be healthy whereas losers, beaten favourites and horses that did not run up to form are statistically more likely to be ill and therefore infectious.

"Transmission of infection is possible via the dope box or staff, who have recently been in contact with an infected horse. I don't believe any protective clothing is worn or disinfection carried out between each horse entering the unit."

Jonjo O'Neill's frustrating seven-week losing run finally came to an end at Huntingdon yesterday when Specular, owned by JP McManus and ridden by Tony McCoy, gave him his first winner since 13 December. A virus forced the Jackdaws Castle trainer to close down his stable after Boxing Day. McCoy said: "The trainer has felt that they're coming right and he has been justified with the horse winning."

Gold Medallist, ante-post co-favourite for the Royal & Sun Alliance Hurdle, kept his unbeaten record when making all in Huntingdon's Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle. The bookmakers, however, were not that impressed. Coral and Paddy Power both eased him out to 5-1 from 9-2 for Cheltenham.

Although both jump meetings escaped the bad weather yesterday, tomorrow's card at snow-bound Newcastle was called off yesterday while Kempton and Warwick today are subject to 7.30am inspections.

Brian Clifford, the clerk of the course at Kempton, said: "We are raceable at the moment but snow is forecast. It is supposed to get warmer tomorrow, so we would be hopeful for Saturday's meeting."

Chepstow are confident that tomorrow's card will go ahead as they could have raced at the Welsh track yesterday.

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