When trainer Gerard Butler owned up in April to using Sungate, which contains the banned anabolic steroid Stanozolol, he claimed that as many as 100 horses in Newmarket had been treated with the drug. That claim appears less fanciful this morning after veteran trainer Clive Brittain admitted to The Guardian that he too had administered the drug to some of his horses.
Already we know of 22 horses testing positive whilst in the care of Mahmood Al Zarooni, and nine from Butler’s yard. Although Brittain has not named any of his horses treated, and reckoned only half a dozen or so are involved. Nevertheless, the overall numbers are creeping up.
Unlike Al Zarooni, who has already been banned for eight years, and Butler, who have seven charges to answer with the British Horseracing Authority, Brittain has said he would be “surprised” if any charges were brought against him.
He told The Guardian, “They (the BHA) came round and had a talk. Any of the horses that were treated by the vets were horses recovering from serious injury. They weren't in training, they were at rest. These horses were months away from a racecourse. It would only have been the horses that had fractures we'd be talking about, six or seven at the most. When a horse has a fracture, you treat it, you give it time and then you give it more time. It wasn’t there to boost their growth. We’ve never had a horse test positive for anything.”
Brittain is relying on the BHA recognising that his treatments were carried out in the “exceptional circumstances” which do allow steroid treatment for horses that are not in racing training. He was adamant that he would not have used Sungate had he known it contained stanozolol, saying, “We’ve never used anything like that and never would.”
Brittain will now face a wait before learning how the BHA will view his disclosure. A BHA spokesman said: “The investigation into the use of Sungate remains ongoing and we will not be making any further comment at present.”