TRAINER Gerard Butler has lodged an appeal against his five-year ban from racing over the use of banned steroids on some of his horses.
The results of a British Horseracing Authority inquiry held in November were released last Wednesday, with Group One-winning Butler having admitted all seven charges.
Nine horses failed drug tests, five for joint treatment Sungate, which contains banned steroid stanozolol. However, considered even more serious was Butler’s admission that he administered another substance, Rexogin, to four horses himself.
Rexogin is designed for use in humans, often for bodybuilding, and contains ten times as much stanozolol as Sungate.
Butler admitted he had made a “big mistake” and was paying “a big price” but has now decided to contest the result of the hearing. A BHA tweet read: “Gerard Butler has appealed against the findings of the Disciplinary Panel on 4 Dec 2013 and the penalties imposed. No date for a hearing has yet been set. Butler will remain a disqualified person in the meantime.”
Meanwhile, today’s big race is at Huntingdon, where Richard Johnson believes Captain Chris has “everything in his favour” as he makes his seasonal return in the Betfred Peterborough Chase.
The Philip Hobbs-trained nine-year-old enjoyed an excellent campaign last time around, once again showing his preference for right-handed tracks with good runs at Ascot sandwiching his excellent effort to finish a neck second to Long Run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
He was due to make his return in last month’s Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot, but missed out after a slight setback and instead gives weight to six talented opponents in Huntingdon’s Grade Two feature, with Johnson anticipating a bold show.
“It’ll be great to get him back on the racecourse again. He seems very well at home and I’m looking forward to riding him,” he said. “Apart from the small hiccup which forced him to miss Ascot, which was something and nothing really, everything has gone very smoothly.
“The Ascot race was the plan, but, after he missed that, this was an obvious place for him to come. The dry weather we’ve been having means he should get his ground.”
With the King George only a fortnight after the Peterborough, Hobbs admitted earlier this month there has to be some doubt about Captain Chris turning up for the Boxing Day highlight.
Asked about the task of running in both races, the jockey said: “That is the only worry but, if he can’t perform well in this race, the King George isn’t going to be a realistic target anyway.”