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Wesley Ward says innuendo about Royal Ascot raiders "doesn't affect me"

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Thu 15 Jun 2017

By Geoffrey Riddle at Newmarket

Wesley Ward has hit back at any suggestion that his Royal Ascot runners in the past decade have been assisted by medical means.

The American trainer has sent over 34 horses to compete at the meeting since Cannonball became his first challenger in the King’s Stand Stakes in 2009.

He has enjoyed seven successes at the meeting, with six juveniles and Undrafted in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Many trainers, owners and the betting public have alluded to the physical size and scope of Ward’s challengers and at the Royal Ascot press conference at the Jockey Club Rooms on Thursday even David Redvers, the racing manager of Qatar Racing, mentioned that his juveniles, "sometimes look like four-year-olds”.

Ward will field a team of ten next week, headed by last season’s impressive Queen Mary winner and King’s Stand Stakes favourite Lady Aurelia.

When asked how he felt at the innuendo and whispering surrounding his runners in Britain, he said: “It doesn’t affect me.

“They are taking hair samples. They can test whatever they want to test and they can hold it for the next 20 years.

"My horses are coming over and I know exactly what it takes training wise. I am not worried about that at all.”

When asked to elaborate, he added:  “It is a craft I have learnt. I have been breaking in horses since I was ten years old.

“It is how I got a niche in a very tough training circuit at Santa Anita when I was 22 years old.

Wesley Ward post Chelevey Park

“I brought that to Southern California, where I was able to win a lot of early two-year-old races and beat some of the better bred and higher quality two-year-olds because mine were more ready and focused. I am bringing a better and better quality horse over here and I am getting lucky and I hope it continues.”

In 2015 the British Horseracing Authority admitted that hair sampling to determine retrospectively if a horse has been administered prohibited substances such as anabolic steroids would become a regular testing procedure as part of the BHA’s enhanced zero-tolerance policy against drugs.

Under the regulations a horse is now forbidden to be given steroids at any point and any horse to have tested positive will be subject to a mandatory stand-down period of 14 months.

The regulations also state that all horses imported to Britain must be accompanied by a sample that shows no evidence of anabolic steroids administration.

American racing has cleaned up its act over the last few years and in May US representative Andy Barr filed a bill that would ban race-day medication in America and allow the US Anti-Doping Agency the authority to ensure all racing jurisdictions have the same rules, testing and enforcement.

Barr enlisted the help of Frank Stronach, who owns Santa Anita in California, Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland and Gulfstream Park in Florida to add muscle to his cause.

Last week, however, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the leading equine veterinary body, came out in support of Furosemide, know in Britain as Lasix.

Lasix is banned in Britain, but is allowed to be administered in America.

Lasix is an anti-bleeding drug, but there is a large body of evidence to suggest it is a performance-enhancer as it has diuretic properties.

“We are weaning everything off,” Ward added. “They have taken away steroids and everything. The only thing that is permitted is Bute and Lasix. They are backing it up (use of the drugs) to 48 hours and not 24 hours so we are bringing over a very sound horse over with no medication.

“Lasix is a wonderful medication for a horse that bleeds.

"I had one bleed out of his nose, and you can see the pain that he has. It hits you in the heart.

“It hits you because you know that if you were to give him one shot of Lasix he would sail on through there and be fine.

“It is really hard to say because if you eliminate medication then you are taking away those wonderful horses away that would bleed. It is not to say that a stallion is a bleeder that his stallion will.”

Ward’s comments came before the BHA launched a new testing App on Thursday that promises all post-race testing at Royal Ascot to be recorded with the new smartphone software.

The new technology will be implemented for the five-day meeting and will extend to out of competition testing in due course.

The BHA hopes that the new process will minimise the risk of errors and create a more secure and efficient process and allow a more data-driven and strategic approach to the deployment of the regulatory body’s anti-doping resources.

Brant Dunshea, Director of Integrity and Regulatory operations at the BHA, said: “We are committed to keeping British Racing fair and clean and this modernisation of our testing technology is another step forwards on this front.

“The new processes associated with this technology will be quicker and more secure, as well as enabling us to be smarter, dynamic and take a more strategic view of our constantly evolving Anti-Doping program.”

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