“Check” – Dictionary – Examine (something) in order to determine its accuracy, quality, or condition, or to detect the presence of something.
“Pre-race check” – Nicky Henderson, Tom Symonds, Ben Pauling and James Main – a protocol developed over several years between the practice and Mr Henderson to conceal the administration of tranexamic acid by injection to a horse on a race day.
So for any of you who have not been following my tweets in recent days; In June 2009 headline in Telegraph was as follows:
Nicky Henderson has been fined a record £40,000 and banned from making entries for three months after being found guilty of administering an anti-bleeding drug to the Queen’s horse Moonlit Path at Huntingdon in February.
BHA’s Full Decisions and Reasons can be found here; http://www.britishhorseracing.com/resources/about/whatwedo/disciplinary/disciplinaryDetail.asp?item=089819 but initially I want to focus on one section in particular:
Evidence at this Enquiry
12. The main factual evidence came just from Henderson. He had given notice that he intended to call Mr Main, and he also produced a statement signed on 3 June 2009 from him. This statement was also sent direct by Mr Main to the BHA on 3 June, under cover of a letter in which he expressed disagreement with the note compiled by the BHA investigators of his interview on 9 April. (Mr Main had refused to allow this to be recorded at the time). But on 18 June 2009, the BHA was informed by Henderson’s representatives that Mr Main would not be called to give evidence, because he was refusing to come.
13. As will be apparent from the analysis of this case below, it is obvious that Mr Main had some important, perhaps vital evidence to give. The Panel therefore raised with the parties the possibility of adjourning the enquiry to see if Mr Main might respond to invitations to attend from the BHA or even from the Panel direct. Mr Norris QC for Henderson forcefully opposed this course, and Mr McPherson QC for the BHA doubted whether Mr Main might respond to their invitation, because of the earlier dispute with him about the accuracy of the 9 April interview note.
14. The Panel saw an additional possible benefit from an adjournment. This would have allowed evidence to be taken from Tom Symonds, who was also, in the Panel’s view, someone with an important story to tell. But Mr Norris QC’s reaction to that was again to resist any adjournment, because he did not propose to call any evidence from Symonds. The Panel’s eventual decision was not to adjourn, because it was uncertain whether Mr Main would agree to give evidence, even with the “encouragement” he might be given by drawing his attention to Rule 6 of the Rules of Racing. It remained the Panel’s view that Mr Main and Mr Symonds had potentially crucial evidence to give.
So what was this evidence? Well we had to wait for the findings of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon to be published on the 22nd February 2011, http://www.rcvs.org.uk/document-library/main-feb-2011-findings.
Here are the best bits:
12) Henderson said in evidence that he “did not think that we had administered anything terribly illegal and the horse had not exactly won the race”.
21) Main said that it was widely used by other veterinary surgeons and trainers on race days to treat horses with a history of EIPH.
24) The Committee was unimpressed by Mr Henderson’s evidence and were surprised by his apparent lack of knowledge of the rules of racing. It considered that Mr Symonds and Mr Pauling did their best to assist the Committee in difficult circumstances.
25) Committee accepts Mr Main’s oral evidence that he, and other veterinary surgeons at the practice, had administered tranexamic acid to horses on race days at Mr Henderson’s yard over a significant period of time without positive testing.
25) While it is evident from the BHA’s Guidelines that the sensitivity of the tests is in a process of continual development, the Committee is unable to speculate as to why tranexamic acid had not tested positive on horses to which Mr Main had administered it on previous occasions.
32) Committee has concluded that the use of the term was, in effect, a protocol developed over several years between the practice and Mr Henderson to conceal the administration of tranexamic acid by injection to a horse on a race day.
32) It is sure that the underlying purpose shared by both Mr Main and Mr Henderson was to conceal a breach of Instruction C9 when the BHA inspected the yard’s records. Both Mr Symonds and Mr Pauling showed obvious discomfiture during their evidence when admitting that they knew that no substance should be given to a horse on a race day other than normal food and water and that was why injections of tranexamic acid were not entered into the yard’s own medication record.
So what happened next?
Well Tom Symonds left and started training himself – Be interested to hear the motives behind that move.
and…er…well that’s it.
So with the findings highlighting a protocol to conceal the administration of banned substances by calling the procedure a “pre race check”, Did the BHA review the clinical records of all Mr Henderson’s horses?
Did the BHA review their penalty following the evidence of Mr Main, Mr Symonds and Mr Pauling? A reminder of what was said by BHA QC at the Disciplinary Hearing; Mr McPherson QC for the BHA doubted whether Mr Main might respond to their invitation, because of the earlier dispute with him about the accuracy of the 9 April interview note.
Has Mr Main been approached by the BHA with regards to his statement of the protocol being used by other trainers on race day?
There are many more questions that need answering after you have read both documents. Be interested to know what questions you would like to ask the BHA or Mr Henderson. Please use the comments section below.