Reserpine Found in Clifton Promise's B Sample

Reserpine Found in Clifton Promise's B Sample

Clifton Promise, here at the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event with rider Jock Paget, tested positive for reserpine following the 2013 Burghley Horse Trials.

Photo: Erica Larson, News Editor

A second blood sample analysis has confirmed the presence of a banned substance in a New Zealand eventing horse during his victory at the 2013 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in September.

The 14-year-old gelding Clifton Promise, ridden by eventing champion Jonathan “Jock” Paget, tested positive for the tranquilizer drug reserpine through two separate blood samples, both drawn simultaneously Sept. 8 at the close of the Burghley Horse Trials. Blood samples for drug screening are taken in two separate tubes and labeled A and B. If the A sample comes back positive, the “person responsible” (the rider) can elect to have the B sample tested for confirmation.

When Clifton Promise’s A sample was found positive Oct. 14, Paget requested the B sample testing. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) informed Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) on Tuesday (Nov. 26) of the positive B sample result. 

Both Clifton Promise and Paget have been temporarily suspended from FEI and national competitions since the Oct. 14 positive sample A, according to a statement from ESNZ. The positive sample B does not automatically result in fines or sustained suspensions, but it does mean that Paget will have to stand for trial in an FEI tribunal and could lose his Burghley title as a result of the trial.

Paget will be required to explain the presence of reserpine—described as a banned substance on the FEI’s 2013 Prohibited Substances List—in the blood samples through an official written statement to the FEI, ESNZ stated.

Paget has voluntarily not participated in any official ESNZ activity since the first positive sample result was announced, in respect of the ESNZ’s Clean Sport police and its support of the FEI Clean Sport program, ESNZ added.

Paget is cooperative and supportive of the position of the ESNZ in this matter, ESNZ Chief Executive Jim Ellis said. “ESNZ is confident that he will provide a full and persuasive explanation to the FEI,” he said.

Paget faces a 2-year suspension from all international competitions, as well as a fine, an FEI representative told The Horse. The amount of the fine would be determined by the tribunal at the time of the hearing.

Clifton Pinot, a 13-year-old gelding ridden to 14th place at this year's Burghley Horse Trials by Australian Kevin McNab, also tested positive for the same substance at the same event, according to the FEI. The B sample results of for that horse have not yet been announced.

Both horses are owned by France-based British entrepreneur Frances Stead, MA (Honors), of Clifton Eventers.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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