More than 120 Cheltenham Festival horses tested for drugs as part of new big anti-doping operation in racing

A WHOPPING 120 horses with entries at the Cheltenham Festival have been drugs tested in Ireland as part of a massive joint anti-doping operation.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) have teamed up just days before the start of the Festival to combat the use of banned substances.

GettySome 14 yards were visited by officials – and Willie Mullins was almost certainly one of them[/caption]

Over the last few days, top officials from Britain and Ireland visited 14 stables unannounced and took over 250 samples from potential Festival runners.

Among those to take part in the surprise operation was James Given, the former racehorse trainer who is now the BHA’s director of equine regulation, and a senior British vet.

They took the samples alongside their Irish colleagues, with horses from the yards of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott almost certain to have been among those tested.

The samples will be processed in a specialist lab in Newmarket with the results expected next week – with any adverse findings likely to lead to disciplinary action.

Given said: “The BHA welcomes the collaboration with the IHRB to demonstrate to stakeholders and the public that horses running from either side of the Irish sea in each other’s races do so under the same level of scrutiny.

“Not only will our Medication Control and Anti-Doping (MCAD) team have access to more information about visiting horses.

“But there will be opportunities for our wider team to share ideas and best practice in other areas of our work.

“Like the IHRB, this is aligned with our aims around international collaboration, the response to racecourse accidents and the overall improvement of equine safety and welfare.”

IHRB chief vet Lynn Hillyer added: “The IHRB Strategy 2024-2027 commits us to close engagement with international horseracing bodies and benchmarking ourselves against best international practice.

“This new venture shows stakeholders and the racing public that we collaborate as professionals across both sides of the Irish Sea.

“Sharing best practice and resources and demonstrating equally stringent regulatory processes and standards to the extent that our anti-doping and medication control programmes are interoperable. 

“We are delighted to be collaborating with our BHA colleagues in this way and see it as a positive step forward.

“It reinforces the point that there is no room for anything other than the highest standards of integrity and welfare in either jurisdiction.”

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