St Leger winner Encke has been banned from racing after becoming the most high-profile Godolphin stable horse to fail a drugs test.
Encke – whose shock victory at Doncaster shattered much fancied favourite Camelot’s Triple Crown quest – was one of seven horses to provide a positive sample after racing’s rulers ordered tests to be carried out on all 391 animals trained under the auspices of Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation at two stables in Newmarket.
The revelation is aother blow to the sport’s tarnished reputation and comes just weeks after Encke’s disgraced trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was banned for eight years after 15 horses tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing anabolic steroid.
However, there is no question of Encke and his jockey Mikael Barzalona being stripped of the Ladbrokes St Leger that they won so convincingly last September.
The Classic winner provided negative tests after his third-place finish at York’s Ebor festival last August, and then at Doncaster just over three weeks later. The colt, now four, has not raced since the St Leger.
The six-month ban now imposed on the seven horses means all of the animals are unlikely to run this season. The suspension cannot be lifted until October 29, less than a fortnight before the 2013 Flat season ends.
However, the British Horseracing Authority will not consider taking any further disciplinary action against Al Zarooni until his appeal against the severity of his eight-year ban is heard.
Al Zarooni had previously admitted bringing the banned drugs on a plane from Dubai – Godolphin’s winter base – to Newmarket and ordering the horses to be injected to improve their performance.