Henderson faces another positive test
Tiresome as it must have seemed to one of the top jumps trainers in the land, the announcement yesterday that another of Nicky Henderson's horses has tested positive for a prohibited substance was not quite the sensation it might at first appear.
It has been known for some time that he would be obliged to face a British Horseracing Authority inquiry soon, an unexpected positive test in his string having alerted him to a potential problem with Binocular's defence of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Even so, there will be curiosity about the circumstances by which a sample from Heather Royal, sixth in a bumper at Huntingdon in February, came to contain traces of an anti-inflammatory drug, Dexamethasone.
Henderson notoriously received a fine of £40,000 after another mare, running at the same track two years earlier, tested positive for an anti-bleeding drug.
There was an uncomfortable sequel to that scandal in February when Henderson gave evidence to a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons hearing — after which the vet responsible for the medication of Moonlit Path was struck off.
It now turns out that this latest aberration had taken place only days previously.
It was upon learning that another horse had tested positive that Henderson suddenly realised, to his horror, that the same treatment may not have cleared Binocular's system.
He duly arranged an elective test during the weekend preceding the Festival and the result made it plain that Binocular could not run.
The steroid in question is primarily prescribed to treat allergies, but there has been some debate about its beneficial metabolic properties.
Regardless, it was not clearing the system within the eight-day window recommended.
Henderson faces a fine of up to £10,000 for the failed test, and another, of up to £2,000, if found to have kept incomplete medical records.
The hearing will be heard on June 23.