Flash Of Straw was found to have been administered with Detomidine, a tranquilliser, prior to finishing sixth in the HMS Cromer Handicap at Yarmouth on 20 August last year, for which he was heavily backed at long odds before starting favourite at 4-1. An extensive investigation by Surrey Police was unable to establish who administered the substance, the motive for doing so or where the horse was drugged.
Lewis accepted his fine philosophically, and refused to add to criticism of the Jockey Club for waiting six months to announce that Flash of Straw had been doped. 'I think what they did was a good idea,' he said. 'They were hoping it would trap the doper, by making him become too confident. If it had come off everybody would have praised them and it certainly caused me no embarrassment. '
Lewis also expressed surprise that his horse was singled out by a doper. 'We thought he would be well-suited by the soft ground that day,' he said, 'But he's a moderate horse and was by no means guaranteed to win.'
One possibility which Lewis seems to have overlooked is that the strong support for his horse made him a target for a layer with big liabilities.
Owen O'Neill completed one of the most unlikely doubles in Turf history at Bath yesterday. Harvest Rose (66-1) and Miss Crusty (50-1) rewarded followers of the Cheltenham handler at odds of 3,416-1.