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Benoit de la Sayette notified of positive cocaine test

Apprentice jockey Benoit de la Sayette has tested positive for metabolites of cocaine, the Professional Jockeys Association has announced.

Last month a video circulated on social media claiming to show De la Sayette at a party in the presence of cocaine following his victory on Haqeeqy for his boss, trainer John Gosden, in the Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on March 27.

The PJA issued a statement on the rider’s behalf denying the allegation and that he “did not and does not take cocaine.”

Subsequently, the British Horseracing Authority arranged to take urine and hair samples from De la Sayette on March 31.

Benoit de la Sayette in winning action at Doncaster aboard Haqeeqy
Benoit de la Sayette in winning action at Doncaster aboard Haqeeqy (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The urine sample returned negative on the same day the test was administered, but the PJA said that on Friday De la Sayette was informed by the BHA that the hair sample had returned positive for metabolites of cocaine.

De la Sayette has now admitted that he had previously taken cocaine and that he had initially not been as forthcoming as he ought to have been to those close to him and advising him, the PJA said, adding he maintains that the circulated video was from October 2019, that he did not take cocaine on that occasion and did not do so after winning the Lincoln.

He was due to ride at Brighton on Saturday, but stood himself down and agreed he would not accept any further rides. He has subsequently been informed by the BHA that he is now suspended from riding pending the conclusion of the disciplinary process, which he will fully co-operate with.

Benoit de la Sayette after riding Haqeeqy to victory in the Lincoln
Benoit de la Sayette after riding Haqeeqy to victory in the Lincoln (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

De la Sayette said in a statement issued by the PJA: “I cannot apologise enough for my actions, both in respect of taking cocaine and of misleading those around me. Earlier this year I moved back home to live with my parents in order to take myself away from an environment where it was present.

“There are no excuses and I am sorry for letting down my family, the team at Clarehaven Stables, Mr Gosden and my colleagues in the weighing room.”

PJA chief executive Paul Struthers said: “Benoit is a very young man who only turned 18 in December 2020. He has made mistakes but the PJA will continue to support him throughout the process.”

Danyah primed for Lincoln bid

Owen Burrows reports Danyah to have done well during the winter and is looking forward to saddling the four-year-old in the Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.

The son of Invincible Spirit showed progressive form last term, topping and tailing his season with victories on Town Moor and at Haydock.

Burrows is optimistic Danyah can put up a good show on Saturday, on the evidence of his home work.

The Lambourn trainer said: “We’ve been pleased with him. He’s done well through the winter.

“He’s pleased me in his work leading up to this. Conditions look to suit, so fingers crossed.

“He’s won over the course and at Haydock over a mile on good ground. I’m expecting the ground to be similar to Haydock – so no excuses there.

“We’re going there ticking a few boxes. We’re hopeful.”

The draw is always a talking point over the straight mile on Town Moor, and Burrows is happy enough with stall nine.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be drawn much lower. We’ll take that,” he said.

“It depends how it pans out. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

Charlie Appleby is anticipating a big run from Eastern World as he seeks a third win in the race, following the successes of Secret Brief in 2016 and Auxerre in 2019.

“Eastern World won impressively on his one start in Dubai over the winter and travelled back to the UK well,” the Newmarket trainer told www.godolphin.com.

“The one thing he does take into this race is that he is fit and ready to go – he looked fantastic when he got off the plane. Both our previous winners of the Lincoln were also drawn high, so hopefully stall 19 is a good sign.”

Charlie Fellowes has concerns about the ground and the draw for King Ottokar
Charlie Fellowes has concerns about the ground and the draw for King Ottokar (Steven Paston/PA)

Charlie Fellowes is hoping stall four will not prove disadvantageous to King Ottokar, who has had this race as his objective since the autumn.

He said: “We’re far side. It’s a typically strong field, (so) hopefully there is some pace around us to aim at, and we’ll see. In these big handicaps, you need to be behind the pace.

“I want a bit of rain just to take the edge off the ground.

“I’ll go and walk the track beforehand.

“He’s had a perfect preparation. He’s working well at home, and this has been the target since the Balmoral. We’re very happy.”

River Nymph disappointed in that race at Ascot in October, but trainer Clive Cox felt it was one race too many.

However, the Lambourn trainer could not be more pleased with how the four-year-old has wintered and is hoping stall two will not be a hindrance.

“He’s in great form. I think he was probably just off the boil when he ran in the Balmoral, but he’s trained very well and wintered well,” he said.

“I hope a low draw is no inconvenience. I think he will get the mile, though, we’ve got to prove that yet. It will mould our campaign, but I couldn’t be happier with him.

“He’s fit and well. We’re looking forward to getting under way on Saturday.”

Trainer Richard Hughes would like to see rain for Brentford Hope
Trainer Richard Hughes would like to see rain for Brentford Hope (Dan Abraham/PA)

Richard Hughes is another who would prefer some rain, to help Brentford Hope’s chances.

“I’m happy enough. I just need a bit of rain now,” said the Upper Lambourn handler.

“Hopefully, they’ll get some. He needs some.

“He’s well and he goes there with his chance if the ground is soft.”

Richard Hannon is two-handed in the Lincoln with Man Of The Night and Ouzo
Richard Hannon is two-handed in the Lincoln with Man Of The Night and Ouzo (Nigel French/PA)

Richard Hannon expects his two runners, Man Of The Night and Ouzo, to go well.

The Marlborough trainer was pleased with Man Of The Night’s first run for 246 days at Wolverhampton this month.

“He ran a very good race at Wolverhampton, he was running on late,” he said.

“He probably does want a mile and a quarter, but they will go very quick on that straight mile at Doncaster. He is a big horse who would have needed that first run. He will come on massively for the run.

“He is quite lightly raced. We thought he was going to be a very good horse, and he has not delivered on that after his win first time out at Newbury, but he is looking like he is going to pay dividends now in these very good handicaps.”

Hannon reports Ouzo to be catching the eye on the gallops.

“He has been working great. His last run (at York) last year was very pleasing, and he looks to me a horse still on the upgrade – he is in great form,” he said.

“I think he will go very well at a fairly good price. He might want further, but a straight mile is what he wants first time.

“Mentally he looks to be going the right way. I was a bit worried about him at one stage last year, but he has sorted himself out and he is in great nick mentally and physically.”

Born To Be Alive is due to represent Karl Burke
Born To Be Alive is due to represent Karl Burke (Richard Sellers/PA)

Karl Burke has ground worries for Born To Be Alive, winner of the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton.

“The drying ground is a concern, I’ll walk the track before I let him take his chance,” said Burke.

“It’s a bit frustrating because the horse is in good form.”

Haqeeqy and Eastern World to square up in Lincoln

Market leaders Haqeeqy and Eastern World are among a maximum field of 22 declared for the Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.

Haqeeqy bids to be a first big-race winner for father-and-son partnership John and Thady Gosden, with their dual licence for the start of the new Flat season. He is drawn towards the middle in stall 10 on Saturday.

Haqeeqy has had just five races – while fellow four-year-old Eastern World is also unexposed, having had only seven starts for trainer Charlie Appleby.

A 5lb penalty for winning at Meydan in February ensured he got in the race, and he will race from stall 19.

The weights are headed by another four-year-old, Johan, trained by William Haggas – who has won the big mile handicap four times.

Richard Hughes has a leading contender in Brentford Hope, also four. He is drawn three, and ended last season with victory at Haydock.

Others prominent in the ante-post betting include Karl Burke’s Lincoln Trial winner Born To Be Alive (20), the Owen Burrows-trained Danyah (nine), Charlie Fellowes’ King Ottokar (four) and Grove Ferry (12) from Andrew Balding’s yard.

William Haggas seeking Lincoln history with Johan

William Haggas could rely on Johan to give him an outright record of five winners in the Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday.

The Yorkshire-born Newmarket trainer shares the winning-most tally along with Jack Robinson, who won the race four times between 1896 and 1910.

Haggas has taken the traditional curtain-raiser for the Flat turf season with High Low (1992), Very Wise (2007), Penitent (2010) and Addeybb (2018).

Johan will have to defy top-weight of 9st 10lb after 64 horses remained in the one-mile feature.

The four-year-old has not raced since being beaten in a Listed race at Kempton in November, won by Kinross, after which he was gelded.

Haggas said: “It’s unfortunate he’s got top weight, but that’s because he ran well on the all-weather at Chelmsford, although he didn’t run so well in the Listed race.

“He’s got plenty of weight, so we’ll see. He’s ready to go.”

A maximum field of 22 is allowed for the Lincoln, with the next 22 in the handicap going forward to the consolation race, the Spring Mile, on the same card.

Eastern World is ante-post favourite on the back of a comfortable success at Meydan in February. The four-year-old bids to give trainer Charlie Appleby a third win in the race after Secret Brief (2016) and Auxerre (2019). James Doyle, who has ridden the last two Lincoln winners, is booked to ride.

Other horses prominent in the market to stand their ground include Haqeeqy, who is due to run under the new joint banner of John and Thady Gosden, the Owen Burrows-trained Danyah and Richard Hughes’ Brentford Hope.

Charlie Fellowes is expecting a big run from King Ottokar.

“This has been the plan since the Balmoral (at Ascot) at the end of last year,” the Newmarket trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“He galloped on Sunday. Ben Curtis came and sat on him, who I hope is going to ride him at the weekend.

“It was a lovely piece of work and he feels like he is in really good form, to the extent where I’m going to take the visor off and just run him in a set of cheekpieces. I don’t think he needs the visor anymore. He’s back exactly where I want him.

“We’re looking forward to it, but I’ve said all along this is a Group horse. I still believe that and you need a Group horse when you’re trying to find the winner of a big handicap.

“I hope this horse’s day will come. He deserves it and would be great to see him win on Saturday.”

Lost racecourses 6 – Lincoln and the Lincolnshire Handicap

Lincoln in its heyday

Lincoln in its heyday

For the best part of 200 years racing people knew that the first meeting of the year at Lincoln racecourse meant that the flat season was under way. Since Lincoln closed in 1964, that accolade has belonged to Doncaster, except for a couple of years recently when Catterick bagged the honour. Thankfully, in my view, we have resumed old habits this season. Read more