Two contract workers at Newcastle racecourse suspended in doping probe after 6-4 favourite Ladies First tested positive for a beta-blocker
- BHA have launched investigation into why Ladies First tested positive for drug
- Ladies First finished eighth of nine runners and over 20 lengths behind winner
- Ladies First was 6-4 favourite for Flame Bathrooms Fillies Handicap last month
- Trainer Mick Easterby had high hopes of Ladies First winning on September 21
Two contract workers at Newcastle racecourse have been suspended in connection to an investigation into a positive dope test on a horse which ran at the track on September 21.
The BHA have launched an investigation into why Mick Easterby-trained Ladies First tested positive for a beta-blocker after finishing eighth of nine runners and over 20 lengths behind Alexandrakollantai in the Flame Bathrooms Fillies Handicap over one mile.
Ladies First, who was ridden by apprentice Scott McCullagh, had been the 6-4 favourite for the race on the back of a win at York 12 days earlier.
BHA have launched an investigation into why Ladies First (13) tested positive for a beta-blocker
Arena Racecourse Company, who own and run Newcastle racecourse, limited their response to the reports of their two staff being suspended to a statement which said: ‘We are fully co-operating with the BHA’s investigation into the case.’
It was Easterby’s son and assistant David who first revealed that workers at the North East track were under investigation.
His 87-year-old father, one of the sport’s longest serving trainers, had made no secret that he had high hopes of Ladies First winning.
He even appeared on the Racing UK channel at Ayr where he said he had backed the filly in a treble after the other legs of the bet – believed to be his own Arrowtown (4-5) and Michael Dods-trained Intense Romance (6-1) – had won at the Scottish track.
David Easterby said: ‘We had no idea why Ladies First ran so bad. We eventually just put it down to one of those things after we had checked every conceivable outcome. We checked everything.
‘Our first question when the BHA came and said we have bad news you have tested positive for something was to ask if it had been to make the horse go faster or slower. They said to go slower.
Trainer Mick Easterby had made no secret that he had high hopes of Ladies First winning
This could be worth noting…A tip from the great Mick Easterby to complete his treble tonight (we're pretty sure he means Ladies First in the 7.50)
Racecards ▶️ https://t.co/BO9hXivjYS pic.twitter.com/F8hkyc91it
‘I don’t bet big but I had a £50 double and £50 on the nose.
‘Someone has told me two people have been suspended at Newcastle but they would not tell me anymore than that. It sounds to me like two rogue individuals who thought they could earn themselves a quick buck and sounds like they have as well.
‘The BHA have done their initial tests with us now and we just have to wait.. They don’t tell us a lot.’
Asked how his father had taken the news, David Easterby added: ‘He is very happy that something has been found because the owner was beside himself and couldn’t understand why the filly had been beaten.
Two contract workers at Newcastle racecourse have been suspended in connection to probe
‘That’s why we spent so much time trying to find out why she did run so badly.’
The BHA have refused to comment while the investigation is going on.
Beta blocking drugs when used on horses, humans and dogs have a similar effect – they slow the heart, stabilise the rhythm and inhibit the production of adrenaline, which in the case of a racehorse is essential for the flight response that makes it race most effectively.
The drug is used within the equine community for bona fide cardiology to counteract rhythm irregularities in the heart.
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