Trainers avoid charges in Sungate steroid case


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The Independent Online

Another chapter in the Turf's spring of scandal was closed by the British Horseracing Authority, which announced that no charges would be brought against trainers over the use of Sungate.

An investigation, triggered by positive tests at Gerard Butler's yard, has established that 43 horses across nine Newmarket stables received the medication – which contains the prohibited anabolic steroid stanozolol. But it had been recommended and administered by a local veterinary firm, which had legally imported Sungate under licence from Italy. It was duly entered on the trainers' medical records.

While the practice in question could not be held accountable to the BHA, 38 trainers known to be clients were interviewed in the course of the investigation. Adam Brickell, the director of integrity, legal and risk for the BHA, explained that charges could only be brought – in the absence of positive samples – granted evidence that a trainer had acted in a manner prejudicial to the integrity or reputation of the sport. "In these cases there was no such evidence," he said. "The trainers only allowed their horses to be administered with the product on the advice of – and by – veterinary surgeons to treat orthopaedic conditions." Critically, however, Butler has admitted that he also injected horses himself and will duly still face an inquiry.

Jenny Hall, the interim chief veterinary officer for the BHA, stressed that Sungate is injected into a horse's joints, in contrast with the intramuscular use of anabolic steroids – of which a recommended dosage would typically contain around 50 times the volume of anabolic agent in one Sungate treatment. But it remained "a matter of serious concern that a veterinary practice recommended and administered a product containing anabolic steroids".

Meanwhile, the indefatigable Dawn Approach is once again likely to be bounced quickly out of a rare defeat to run at Deauville on Sunday. Jim Bolger, who saddled him to win at Royal Ascot 17 days after his implosion as Derby favourite, intends to tackle the crack French pair Intello and Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Jacques Le Marois – despite an even shorter interval since the colt went down fighting to Toronado at Goodwood eight days ago.

One of Dawn Approach's predecessors as Epsom favourite, Kingsbarns, will miss a possible comeback at the Curragh the same day after failing to convince trainer Aidan O'Brien that he was ready in a gallop at Ballydoyle. He will instead work after racing on Sunday.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Future Reference (6.10 Sandown) Did not settle under inexperienced partner last time but still ran well.

Where the money's going

Pallasator is 9-1 from 12-1 with William Hill for the Betfred Ebor Handicap at York later this month.