Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I'll Clear My Name of Cheat Allegation; Trainer Denies Foul Play with Race Horses

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I'll Clear My Name of Cheat Allegation; Trainer Denies Foul Play with Race Horses

Article excerpt

Byline: Coreena Ford

VETERAN racehorse trainer Howard Johnson has revealed he will fight to clear his name as he faces a ban from the sport.

The County Durham trainer is due to appear before a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) hearing next month, accused of racing an animal which had undergone a forbidden operation and giving three other horses performance-boosting steroids.

But the 57-year-old has told how he will refute any allegation of wrongdoing at the hearing, telling how he is enlisting a legal team to take on his case.

"I can't go into details ahead of the hearing but they are trying to pick on me for something I haven't done," said Mr Johnson, of White Lea Farm, near Crook, County Durham.

"I will even go on Jeremy Kyle and do a lie detector test.

"I'm a trainer and a farmer, not a legal man, so I will get top men to fight my corner and I refute all the allegations."

The BHA will focus on a left-leg neurectomy operation carried out on a horse called Striking Article, owned by entrepreneur Graham Wylie, which was put down last February following a race in Musselburgh, Scotland.

The 'de-nerving' surgery is treatment for serious conditions, but is not allowed among competition horses because the numbness it causes allows a horse to gallop through pain which would otherwise tell it to stop, potentially putting the jockey and the horse's safety at risk.

Mr Johnson is also accused of giving the banned substance Laurabolin to Mintika Pass, Montoya's Son and Whisky Magic, three other horses in his care. Last night, the experienced trainer was celebrating a win at Doncaster with one of Mr Wylie's 90 horses, Drive Time, which, he said, proved he has excellent animal husbandry skills.

Drive Time romped to victory at the Yorkshire racecourse in his first race for Mr Wylie - despite suffering a broken leg within days of the tycoon buying him for 200,000 Euros (pounds 166,000) 10 months ago. Mr Johnson said: "This is the stuff of movies - it just doesn't happen.

"And I want to prove a point with Drive Time. He's come first in his first race in England and that's down to good management and all credit to my good husbandry and care. …

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