The trial of Irish trainer Philip Fenton, who was accused of being in possession of banned animal remedies, including anabolic steroids, will take place at Carrick-on-Suir District Court on October 23.
Fenton rose to prominence as a trainer in 2009 when Dunguib won the Cheltenham Bumper. The Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer has had nine winners from 46 runners in the current Irish season. The 49-year-old former leading amateur faces eight charges over treatments and medicines found at his yard, South Lodge, near Carrick-on-Suir, Waterford in Tipperary during an unannounced search by the Ministry of Agriculture vets.
The discovery of banned treatments and medicines was made a year and four months before racing was rocked by the Godolphin steroid scandal in which disgraced trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was banned for eight years after he admitted to administering banned steroids to horses. It is believed that the Fenton case was linked to a parcel of illegal medication intercepted as it was being imported at Dublin Airport; the parcel was addressed to a vet.
The case was mentioned in court for the eighth time on Thursday in Carrick. Jurisdiction was accepted by Judge Terence Finn that means that hearing will take place in the district court rather than moving to a higher court. Judge Finn dismissed an application in June by defense lawyers that the charges were not been correctly brought up as regulations had been amended between the date of the inspection and when summonses were issued in last October.
The charges arise from an unannounced inspection by the Department, the state solicitor for South Tipperary, Paul Fitzpatrick, said. Judge Terence Finn was told the state would be calling eight witnesses, some of whom will travel from overseas for the trial. Defense barrister John Walsh, senior counsel, did not indicate how many witnesses would be called by him. The prosecution is being brought in the name of Ireland's Minister for Agriculture for infringements of rules on animal remedies.
During a brief appearance in court at Carrick-on-Suir, it was disclosed that among the substances found on the yard of Fenton were 1 kilogram of the steroid Nitrotain, a 20ml bottle of another performance enhancing drug Ilium Stanabolic (that that contains the anabolic steroid Stanozolol), a counterfeit antibiotic, and various medicines held without prescription. The court heard the antibiotics allegedly discovered at the stables include Engemycin 10%, Neomycin-Penicillin, and the counterfeit antibiotic, Marbocyl 10%. At a previous hearing, Fenton has accepted he was in the possession of some banned animal remedies including anabolic steroids.
Fenton was cleared by the British Horseracing Authority to run Gold Cup hope Last Installment and Dunguib at the Festival after staff of the British Horseracing Authority visited his yard to test the runners. Both horses were pulled up and have since been retired after recurring injuries.
The Irish Turf Club, which licenses Fenton, has sent its officials to each of the hearing and the British Horseracing Authority is keeping a close eye on the case though it has little control over a trainer who is licensed in a different jurisdiction.