Leading race horse trainer,Howard Johnson, could face a sensational ban from the game after it was found that he ran a horse which had undergone an operation to ‘de-nerve’ one of its legs.
Johnson yesterday admitted that he faces a BHA hearing next month into his handling of Striking Article, put down after being pulled up in the Toteexacta Claiming Chase at Musselburgh on February 7, 2010.
The potential penalties start with a fine but, the BHA also have the power to ban the trainer in a case which could inflict lasting damage to his reputation. Performing a neurectomy – effectively severing nervous connection to the lower leg to cause numbness – is a treatment for some serious conditions. However it is outlawed in racing on both welfare and safety grounds.
Striking Article raced in the familiar colours of Graham and Andrea Wylie, Johnson’s main patrons. The horse ran at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival being pulled up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He had won three of his seven chases before starting 5-4 favourite for the Musselburgh chase in which he was pulled up.Rumours of a neurectomy circulated shortly after the event.
It is believed the horse suffered a tendon injuryduring the race. The neurectomy was identified at a subsequent post mortem. Johnson refused to discuss the case but claimed he had been unaware that a neurectomy was against the rules of racing.
He added:”It’s not as serious as people think and I’ve got all the vet’s reports. I am not saying anything until after I go to the BHA next month”.