By Jon Lees
Newmarket trainer Denis Quinn has been fined a token £1 over a doping case which the British Horseracing Authority accepted was malicious and a deliberate attempt to damage him.
Quinn was facing serious charges before the BHA’s disciplinary panel after the gelding Murdanova tested positive for bute after a race at Wolverhampton in October 2017 – which under strict liability rules could have resulted in a substantial penalty, including disqualification of his licence.
But while the trainer accepted he was in breach of the rules and the horse would have to be disqualified, the BHA acknowledged in findings from an inquiry released on Monday that he had not been responsible after an investigation revealed the bute was administered by “individuals hostile to Mr Quinn”.
Quinn, who trains a small string based off Newmarket High Street, said: “It was a horrible thing to happen, but I am happy enough that the BHA worked with me and took it sympathetically on my side. As far as they are concerned, I can’t knock them.”
Inquiries began after the BHA received anonymous tip-offs before starts at Wolverhampton in September and October 2017 that Murdanova had been given bute, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory which has a seven-day detection time and is a prohibited substance on race day. This was confirmed in testing of blood and urine samples taken after the second race.
Further investigations established there were individuals who were hostile to Quinn – one of whom admitted making the first tip-off call – while during the same period, there had been a break-in at the yard, the trainer’s tyres had been damaged and he was being harassed, which he reported to the police.
The panel concluded that one or more of those responsible had given the bute, and that disqualification was not an appropriate penalty.
In April, former trainer David Arbuthnot was fined £1,000 after one of his horses was the victim of a doping he believed was malicious, and Hughie Morrison received the same penalty in the Our Little Sister case.
The panel said Quinn’s case was a clear example of “third party malice and improper doping” and in fining him £1 accepted that any greater penalty on a trainer – who had lost his main owner since the incident – “would in one sense be doing the work of the people who wished to damage him”.
This was also taken into account in the imposition of a £500 fine for inadequate record keeping.
Quinn added: “I’ve moved on now and I am back up getting some more horses.
“I did lose two good horses Shining Romeo, a 130-rated horse on the way up, and Stonecoldsoba – who died within six weeks of each other. They had won 12 races, and that had a big impact.
“We’ll come back again with some nice horses. People know that I am genuine and honest.”