Graceful’s Descent is anything but(e)

Drugs can hang around for a long time. That was the conclusion to be drawn from the findings of a disciplinary panel held yesterday by the British Horseracing Authority.

The panel was considering the urine sample taken from Graceful Descent in a routine test following the Mary Robinson MBE Novices’ Hurdle at Hexham on 15 March in which Karen Tutty’s horse finished in sixth place. Graceful Descent’s urine was found to contain phenylbutazone (bute) and oxyphenbutazone, both anti-inflammatory drugs.

Scrabble enthusiasts might like to make a not of oxyphenbutazone – it has the highest possible score of 1,780 for a single play, in which you have match your seven letters across three triple word squares to eight already played. I doubt it comes up often!

Tutty did not dispute the findings, and did not ask for a second sample to be analysed. In her written submission to the panel she explained that the horse had been treated by her vet with a three day course of Pro-Dynam between 26-28 February. She explained that the bute had been mixed into the horse’s feed and that subsequently the manger had not been properly cleaned out.

Tutty went on to say that since this incident she had replaced all the fixed food mangers with removable ones which could be cleaned more easily and thoroughly. The panel accepted that here had been no intention to cheat by doping Graceful Descent before the race, but nevertheless fined the trainer £1,000, an amount roughly equivalent to one month’s training fees. They disqualified Graceful Descent from the race.

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