Gordon Elliott has been fined £1,000 and Zanahiyr disqualified from third place in last year’s Unibet Champion Hurdle after testing positive for a banned raceday substance.
Zanahiyr was found to have traces of a metabolite of lidocaine, a local anaesthetic, in his system although neither Elliott or the BHA were able to pinpoint the source of the substance, with BHA legal counsel Charlotte Davison listing it as “a mystery case”.
An unannounced inspection of Elliott’s yard was undertaken in April last year by officials from the IHRB under instructions from the BHA, but no evidence of lidocaine was found at the yard. In addition, Elliott’s regular vet and a specialist who had treated Zanahiyr’s back before Cheltenham stated they had not used the medication on the horse.
The BHA was provided with a list of staff members who travelled with Elliott’s runners to last year’s Cheltenham Festival along with what medication they had been taking, with lidocaine present in over-the-counter medicines used by humans as well as prescription drugs used for horses.
One such product was older formulations of Bonjela, with the individual who applied Zanahiyr’s tongue tie found to have been using it. However, further investigations concluded the type of Bonjela used by the person did not contain the substance.
Rory Mac Neice, representing Elliott, said the racecourse stables at Cheltenham were “overwhelmingly the most likely place” Zanahiyr came into contact with lidocaine and that the trainer had taken reasonable steps to ensure cross contamination would not occur.
Speaking after the hearing, Elliott said: “I’m grateful to the panel for making a finding of low culpability. That was important to me. It shows that I had taken reasonable precautions. That said, the buck stops with me and I fully support the rules on anti-doping.”