Two unnamed contracted workers at Newcastle racecourse have been suspended pending an investigation by the BHA into them involving a horse being doped to underperform at the track last month.
The horse that was doped was Ladies First trained by Mick Easterby and she tested positive for a beta blocker drug. This looked to have affected her as the way she ran and where she finished was very surprising.
She went off as 6/4 favourite and was really fancied to go on and win but finished eighth out of a nine strong field and 22 lengths behind the eventual winner. This seemed very strange as the reason she was heavily backed and went off as favourite, was because just 12 days before she went on to win at York in good style.
The owners and company that run Newcastle racecourse haven't had a lot to say on the goings on of the investigation but did make a brief statement.
(Credit Racing Post) Arena Racing Company Said: "We're fully co-operating with the BHA's investigation into the case."
The filly was ridden by a young apprentice called Scott McCullagh and he also noticed that the way Ladies First travelled was not to her usual standard and reported she came under real pressure three furlongs out and he informed the stewards after the race that he hung right and something didn't quite feel right on the day.The tests now have obviously proved this and shown that the horse had been doped.
(Credit Racing Post) Assistant trainer to the horse David Easterby Said: “The BHA turned up and told us we’d failed a test for a beta-blocker. I personally had a bet on her, a double with Arrowtown, and was expecting Ladies First to run well, and my dad did a treble including her.
“She’d run well on the all-weather before, and on the handicap she was a racing certainty being well-in from her York win, so it was a shock to see her finish 20-odd lengths back. We looked for every conceivable excuse for her below-par run and couldn’t find one.
“We checked her cycle, being a filly, and that was fine. Scott [McCullagh] said she hung early, but when we got her back home she was perfectly fine and we couldn’t find a single thing wrong with her. We just put it down to it being one of those things, as you have to do in racing."
He added: “I’ve been told two people have been suspended from Newcastle but I don’t know any more than that. Anyone who works in racing has the welfare of the animals at heart and that’s a priority, so I’m certainly not thinking that any of our staff would be considering doing anything like that.
“You spend all day working with racehorses, be it feeding, mucking them out, grooming them and making sure everything is perfect for them, so you can’t see anyone doing anything detrimental to a horse. It just doesn’t add up.”