Johnson banned for ordering 'reckless' surgery on his horses

 

It seems typical of racing that one of its greatest celebrations, as a game without frontiers, should be overshadowed by a reminder that the most perilous boundaries can be those closest to home.

Today, in Chicago, the carnival that opened so many new horizons for the international sport will be enriched by one of the strongest European raids in its history. On the home front, however, the transgressions of a leading jumps trainer have shown that the Turf depends first and foremost on the probity of its domestic routines.

Howard Johnson's colourful career yesterday came to a black end when he was banned for four years by the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority, which condemned his "reckless disregard" for rules on equine welfare. At 58, Johnson has indicated that he intends neither to appeal nor to resume training.

His most egregious offence involved an operation on one of his horses, numbing sensation in a lower limb. Striking Article ran eight times following a palmar neurectomy, but was pulled up and euthanised at Musselburgh last year. The procedure was disclosed by a post-mortem.

Johnson claimed he was unaware he had been breaking any rules, but that protest was treated as evidence that he was not exercising "reasonable skill and care" in the conduct of his business. He was also found guilty of administering steroids to other horses, though disputed that they had been in training at the time.

Johnson's stables near Durham had become one of the most dominant on the northern circuit after investment by a local computer magnate, Graham Wylie. Their many good horses included a champion staying hurdler, in Inglis Drever. Wylie professed himself "disgusted" by Johnson's punishment, and vowed to sell off most of his string. "I'm totally shocked," he said. "Howard has been treated like a criminal and he is not. He would never do anything to harm a horse. Most of my horses will go to the sales and those I keep will either go down south or to Ireland." The BHA, however, approved "a significant and appropriate sanction for two different but very serious offences".

Pending York next week, it is a fairly mundane weekend on home soil but that makes the Arlington Million card all the more resplendent. Aidan O'Brien has the hot favourite for the big one, but it seems more fascinating still that Cape Blanco is accompanied by no less a colt than Treasure Beach, in the Secretariat Stakes. Caught only in the final stride at Epsom, Treasure Beach proceeded to win his home Derby but looked ready for a holiday when fourth at Longchamp last month. He may well get away with this on sheer class.

Cape Blanco made a winning reconnaissance for the Million in the Man O'War Stakes in New York last month and, with Jamie Spencer committed to the O'Brien favourite, Michael Bell had to find a new rider for Wigmore Hall. And, after its distasteful experience yesterday, the British sport could hardly be more grateful for the cleansing headlines that would salute another breakthrough for Hayley Turner.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Dimension (3.20 Newmarket)

Another near miss disclosed the dash for another drop in trip.

Next Best

Excelebration (4.40 Newbury)

Sandwiched podium finishes behind Frankel with romp in German Guineas.

One To Watch

Kazbow (Luca Cumani) saw off plenty of competition for the lead before being run down late at Nottingham.

Where The Money's Going

Cape Blanco is 2-1 from 9-4 with William Hill for the Arlington Million tonight.

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall