Trial hears of 'delight' by Pipe

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The Independent Online

The trial of five men accused of doping two racehorses in 1997 was told yesterday of the "delight" of Martin Pipe, the champion trainer, when his horse won a race at Exeter in which his main rival was Avanti Express, who was later found to have been drugged with acetylpromazine (ACP), a fast-acting tranquilliser.

The trial of five men accused of doping two racehorses in 1997 was told yesterday of the "delight" of Martin Pipe, the champion trainer, when his horse won a race at Exeter in which his main rival was Avanti Express, who was later found to have been drugged with acetylpromazine (ACP), a fast-acting tranquilliser.

Pipe told the jury at Southwark Crown Court that though there were 11 runners in the HMS Exeter Novices' Hurdle in March 1997, it was effectively a two-horse race between Avanti Express and his own entry, Give And Take. "On my experience and looking at the form, I had a slight preference for Avanti Express to win," Pipe said. "That was the one that worried me the most." When Give And Take won the race easily, Pipe said: "I was delighted."

In the dock are Raymond Butler, 52; Adam Hodgson, 37; Jason Moore, 30; John Matthews, 36; and Glen Gill, 34. All deny one count of conspiracy to defraud between 1 March and 1 April 1997. Mr Richard Whittam, prosecuting, has told the jury that "these defendants were members of a team that set out to dope racehorses for gain by betting on one or more of the horses who were not doped".

The court heard evidence yesterday from Michael McCabe, a stable lad with Avanti Express's trainer, Charles Egerton, who travelled to Exeter with the horse on the day of the race. McCabe was accompanied by another stable hand, Joseph Tuite, whom the prosecution has said it cannot rule out as having been a member of the doping gang.

McCabe told the jury that he had noticed nothing wrong with Avanti Express as he groomed him before the race. However, he said that he had left Tuite alone with the horse for "15 or 20 minutes" while he changed his clothes.

Both Avanti Express and Lively Knight, who tested positive for ACP after finishing second when odds-on for a novices' chase at Plumpton later the same month, were strongly fancied for their races, but drifted in the on-course betting market just before the off. The court has been told that the accused men made several thousand pounds by betting on the winners of the races in question. The case continues.

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