Top trainer barred for doping Queen's horse

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The Independent Online

Former champion trainer Nicky Henderson has been banned for three months and handed a record fine for administering a prohibited anti-bleeding drug to a horse owned by the Queen.

At a hearing earlier this week, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) found the 58-year-old trainer guilty of administering tranexamic acid to the queen's mare Moonlit Path before a race at Huntingdon on February 19.

Henderson now facing a ban meaning he will be unable to race any of his horses between July 11 and October 10. He was also fined a record 40,000 pounds.

This is a significant blow to Henderson who is one of Britain's most successful trainers.

The punishment comes in a year when he saddled Punjabi to land his fourth Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and sent out a winner at Royal Ascot.

In a statement, Henderson said: "I am obviously hugely relieved that this saga has been concluded and, even though this seems a harsh sentence, we accept the findings and can now look forward again to the future and an exciting season ahead.

"As we are unable to have any runners for three months in our name, it is going to be all the more difficult to emulate last season's amazing results, but this will make us try even harder to do so.

"Although the medication should not have been administered, I can only re-iterate, as the panel has accepted, that it was only given in the interest of the welfare of Moonlit Path herself.

"The support that I and all the family and the team have received over the last very testing weeks has been quite overwhelming and, under the circumstances, so much appreciated."

Racing personality and Channel 4 betting expert John McCririck attacked the BHA for the severity of the punishment.

"This is a disgraceful slur he (Henderson) will never be able to live down for a man of honour and distinction. He does not dope horses. Racing is harming itself unnecessarily."

In making its decision, the BHA panel took into account various factors, including the fact the substance was administered by an experienced vet whom Henderson considered as an advisor -- and also that the substance is unlikely to act as a performance enhancer.

Also considered was Henderson's contribution to the sport and his charitable activities.

Henderson's 40,000 fine is twice that of the previous record penalty of 20,000 imposed on Michael Wigham in February 2008.

Henderson had admitted to three of the four charges he faced, but denied any wrongdoing in relation to Rule 200, which governs administering or attempting to administer a prohibited substance.

Henderson has always maintained the medication was used "in the interests of the horse's welfare" and not to improve performance.

The two time champion National Hunt trainer, who accrued over two million pounds in prize-money last season, has the right to appeal.

Moonlit Path was making her racecourse debut at Huntingdon, where she finished sixth.

The five-year-old mare, who has subsequently been disqualified from the race, has since run three times, without success.