By Andrew Atkinson
Trainer John Gosden is standing by apprentice teenage jockey Benoit de la Sayette after being suspended by the British Horseracing Authority pending a disciplinary inquiry into a positive test for cocaine.
“Benoit is a teenager and I will be supporting him appropriately during this time,” said Gosden.
A hair sample commissioned by the BHA following the circulation of a social media video implying his use of recreational drugs returned a positive result for metabolites of cocaine.
De la Sayette maintains he did not take cocaine on that occasion, but confessed he had not been as forthcoming as he should have when initially questioned.
A statement through the Professional Jockeys Association, de la Sayette said: “I cannot apologise enough for my actions, both in respect of taking cocaine and of misleading those around me.
“Earlier this year I moved back home to live with my parents in order to take myself away from an environment where it was present.
“There are no excuses and I am sorry for letting down my family, the team at Clarehaven Stables, Mr Gosden and my colleagues in the weighing room.”
De la Sayette, 18, rode Lincoln winner Haqeeqy to victory in March.
The video first began circulating in the wake of the Lincoln, and the PJA issued a strong denial of any cocaine use on the basis of what de la Sayette told them at the time.
A PJA statement said: “Last month a film circulated claiming to show Benoit de la Sayette at a party in the presence of cocaine following victory aboard Haqeeqy in the Unibet Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday, March 27.
“The PJA issued a statement on Benoit’s behalf denying the allegation and confirming that he did not and does not take cocaine.
“Subsequently, the British Horseracing Authority arranged to take urine and hair samples from Benoit on Wednesday, March 31. The urine sample returned negative on the same day the test was administered but on Friday evening Benoit was informed by the BHA that the hair sample had returned positive for metabolites of cocaine.
“Benoit has now admitted that he has previously taken cocaine and that he had initially not been as forthcoming as he ought to have been to those close to him and advising him. “He maintains that the circulated video was from October 2019, that he did not take cocaine on that occasion and did not do so after winning the Lincoln.
“Benoit was due to ride at Brighton on Saturday and stood himself down from the ride, and agreed not to accept any further rides. He has subsequently been informed by the BHA that he is now suspended from riding pending the conclusion of the disciplinary process, which he will fully cooperate with.”
PJA chief executive Paul Struthers said: “Benoit is a very young man who only turned 18 in December 2020. He has made mistakes but the PJA will continue to support him throughout the process.”