Jockeys Sexton and Grant to face Turf Club over failed drug tests

Ruby Walsh secures first Grade One success of National Hunt season on Valseur Lido

Jockeys Kevin Sexton and Danny Grant are set to face the Turf Club's referrals committee on Monday over failed drug tests from earlier this year.

Sexton, a former conditional National Hunt champion rider, tested positive for cocaine at the Galway festival during the summer. He could face a minimum six-month ban from race-riding.

Grant, a flat jockey who has had a long association with the Pat Flynn stable, has twice before tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine and he tested positive for the same drug on two occasions in August, at meetings in Cork and Killarney.

In 2009, the rider, who has a history of serious skin problems, returned a positive test and received a six-month ban, five months of which was later suspended. Grant argued the positive test was as a result of herbal remedies taken to treat his skin condition.


Grant also tested positive in 2014, after which he said it was caused by herbal tea bags bought online to treat the same skin condition.

The Turf Club committee noted the mitigating factors but took into account the 2009 test results and imposed a two-year ban, suspending the final 18 months on condition Grant made himself available for testing throughout the two-year old period and didn’t fail another drugs test.

Ruby Walsh landed the first Grade One prize of the National Hunt season in style on board Valseur Lido in Down Royal's JNwine Champion Chase on Saturday and can continue his rich vein of form to Fairyhouse on Monday.

The champion jockey rides three for Gordon Elliott and the Beginners Chase hope Woodford Island and Sutton Manor in one of the maiden hurdles hold convincing claims.

Walsh is on Fire On His Eyes in the novice hurdle but Gigginstown Stud's other hope, Blazac Turgot, could have an edge for Valseur Lido's trainer, Henry De Bromhead.

Joseph O’Brien was out of luck with Intricately in Friday night’s Breeders Cup in Los Angeles but will surely fancy his chances much closer to home in the opening juvenile hurdle.

Both Landofhopeandglory and Big Ben have been moved from Ballydoyle and race in the JP McManus colours.

Big Ben won a Curragh maiden in August but it is Landofhopeandglory who looks a particularly interesting convert to jumping.

O’Brien himself won on the strapping son of High Chaparral on his first flat start at Galway and Landofhopeandglory’s subsequent career included a second to Sword Fighter in the Curragh Cup.

He hasn’t been seen in action since finishing tailed off in July’s German Derby in Hamburg but is already as low as 16/1 in some lists for the Triumph Hurdle in March.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column