Stephen McConville to face BHA panel over cobalt inquiry

Wed 6 Sep 2017

Stephen McConville, a restricted licence trainer in Northern Ireland, and his son Michael will answer charges at a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing on September 19 over the withdrawal of Anseanachai Cliste at the Cheltenham Festival.

The nine-year-old gelding, who is owned by Michael McConville, was found to have cobalt, a prohibited substance, above the permitted threshold in a urine sample before it was due to run in the Foxhunter Chase.

The horse was withdrawn from the race by order of the stewards, with a BHA report stating they "could not be satisfied that the horse had been administered only normal feed and water on race day".

Both face charges over allowing or causing the administration, or conniving in the administration of prohibited substances, having such items in their possession on a racecourse, on a race day and attempting to obstruct the proper administration or control of racing specifically by deliberately misleading, or endeavouring to mislead stewards and/or a BHA employee.

Michael McConville will also have to answer whether he failed to act in the interests of the horse's best health and welfare by administering substances, namely Adrenal Cortex, without veterinary consultation or advice.

For his part, Stephen McConville has to answer if he was complicit in assisting, aiding and/or engaging the responsible person (his son) for the horse in violations of the equine anti-doping rules.

Anseanachai Cliste had won eight successive point-to-points prior to his arrival at Prestbury Park in March and went on to win the Ulster National at Downpatrick nine days later.

What is Cobalt and what does it do?

Cobalt is is an essential trace dietary mineral required by all mammals, including horses. A normal horse diet contains sufficient cobalt to meet these requirements

Inorganic cobalt salts have the potential to activate the erythropoietin (EPO) gene, which increases the production of red bloods cells. Inorganic cobalt salts are not subject to medicine regulation and are easily available. Cobalt is present in Vitamin B12, which is present in several veterinary medicines and many equine supplements. Both inorganic cobalt salts and Vitamin B12 may be administered by oral and injectable routes.

What is Adrenal Cortex?

Adrenal cortex is is not licensed for use in horses in the UK. The product description states Adrenal Cortex is a potent anti-inflammatory agent thus providing some analgesia and a bit of euphoria to the horse.” The active ingredient is stated to be epinephrine (adrenaline), which is endogenous in all mammals, including horses. Epinephrine increases blood flow to skeletal muscles, increases cardiac output and increases blood glucose levels.

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