Gordon Elliott faces hearing after Cheltenham runner fails drug test

Disgraced horse trainer Gordon Elliott faces new BHA disciplinary action after Cheltenham runner Zanahiyr tested positive for banned drugs, just 12 months after the Irishman was suspended for posing on a dead horse

  • Gordon Elliott faces a hearing on Wednesday over Zanahiyr’s positive drug test
  • Zanahiyr failed the test after placing third in the Champion Hurdle last March
  • Elliott had returned to the sport in September 2021 after his suspension ended 

Gordon Elliott faces possible disciplinary action from the British Horseracing Authority after his Cheltenham runner Zanahiyr failed a drugs test last March – just months after the trainer returned to the sport following his suspension for sitting on a dead horse.

Zanahiyr tested positive for the banned substance 3-hydroxylidocaine following a race at the festival on March 15 last year.

The substance is a metabolite of lidocaine, which is a commonly used local anaesthetic agent in horses.

The test came after the horse finished third in the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, a race won for the second time by Honeysuckle.

The BHA confirmed in a statement that an independent disciplinary panel will meet on Wednesday to determine whether Elliott has breached racing rules.

Zanahiyr, pictured in 2020, failed the test after finishing third at the Champion Hurdle last year

Trainer Gordon Elliott faces an independent disciplinary hearing on Wednesday

According to the BHA’s penalties for breaching Rule (K)2.2, which deals with prohibited substances on race day, sanctions can range from fines to disqualification, if found guilty of an offence.

A ban of between one to 10 years could be enforced should the panel determine there is a high level of culpability for the positive test. A maximum fine of £5,000 can be given in the event should the panel decide there is a low level of culpability.

The panel will also determine whether Zanahiyr is disqualified from last year’s race.

The third-place finish in the Champion Hurdle was worth £47,745 in prize money.

Zanahiyr’s positive test came just six months after Elliott’s trainer’s licence was reinstated.

Elliott, one of the most successful trainers in the history of jump racing, had been given a 12-month ban by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board in March 2021.

The ban followed the publication of a photo of Elliot – taken in 2019 – of him sitting on a horse that had died on the gallops of his stable in County Meath.

Elliott served a six-month suspension in 2021 after being pictured sat on a dead horse in 2019

Elliott apologised for a ‘moment of madness’ with the trainer last year vowing to move forward 

Elliot returned to the sport in September 2021, with the final six months of his suspension having been suspended.

Speaking to Sportsmail ahead of the Cheltenham Festival last year, Elliot said he was aiming to move forward following ‘a moment of madness’. 

Elliott said: ‘I want to move forward now not back — but it was my own fault, my own stupidity. It was a moment of madness. I haven’t tried to hide from it but we are back now and it is good to be training winners.

‘I could understand the public reaction. I knew straight away when I saw the photograph it wasn’t good. I am a human being and I made a mistake.

‘There is not a day when it does not come into my head. It’s something that I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life.’  

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