The BHA has discovered that Anseanachai Cliste, a nine-year-old racehorse, has tested positive for cobalt, a banned substance in horseracing. The horse was banned from competition at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival last March, due to the discovery of a syringe that was located in his box prior to his event. Following this scandal, the BHA has announced that it will impose serious charges against both of the McConville’s.
The Irish father and son are both responsible for the horse, with Stephen being the trainer, and his son Michael being the jockey. The pair will be brought in front of a panel on 19th September to defend themselves and provide any reasoning for using the banned substance; they will then have to face the charges implemented on them. The banned substance, cobalt, can work to boost a horse’s red blood cell count and increase adrenaline, together providing “euphoria to the horse”.
The racehorse in question, Anseanachai, was initially 33/1 to get the victory in the Foxhunters’ chase. He had started to scratch prior to the race, but stewards didn’t realise he had been administered cobalt, but he was withdrawn from the race anyway.
Following this, Anseanachai Cliste struck victory in the Ulter National, seeing off eleven other horses, and winning a prize of £13,500. The horse had initially passed a dope test; however he had failed a test on the 17th March, along with a syringe, covered in blood, being discovered in his box at Cheltenham.
This scandal will be one of the most-high profile cases that the BHA will undertake in recent years, due to the importance of the event and taking part at Cheltenham Race Course.
The drug that is supposed to increase a horse’s endurance, has never been tested positive in a race horse in Britain prior to this. It has however, made an appearance in Australia, which led to Peter Moody, the trainer of the brilliant Black Caviar, facing a massive disciplinary case in 2015.
It was again used in Australia by leading trainer, Danny O’Brien, who was later banned from any affiliation with racing for a number of 3 years. Despite this, the trainer had his ban overturned due to an appeal which stated that their vet had administered cobalt with them being unaware of the matter.
Stephen and Michael could both receive bans of up to 10 years, but the “entry point” penalty is a 2 year ban from the sport. They may also find themselves with an additional 3 year ban due to misleading stewards at Cheltenham.