APPRENTICE jockey Benoit de la Sayette – who won last month’s season-opening Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster – has tested positive for metabolites of cocaine, the Professional Jockeys Association has announced.
Last month a video circulated on social media claiming to show De la Sayette at a party in the presence of cocaine following his victory on Haqeeqy for his boss, trainer John Gosden, on Town Moor on March 27.
The PJA issued a statement on behalf of the rider, purportedly a rising star of the weighing room, denying the allegation and that he “did not and does not take cocaine”.
Subsequently, the British Horseracing Authority arranged to take urine and hair samples from De la Sayette on March 31.
The urine sample returned negative on the same day the test was administered, but the PJA said that on Friday De la Sayette was informed by the BHA that the hair sample had returned positive.
De la Sayette has now admitted that he had 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, the PJA said, adding 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.
He was due to ride at Brighton on Saturday, but stood himself down and agreed he would not accept any further rides. He is now suspended from riding pending the conclusion of the disciplinary process, which he says he will fully co-operate with.
De la Sayette said in a statement issued by the PJA: “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.”
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.”
Meanwhile Ryan Mania’s season to remember continued with a double at Sedgefield on Valence D’Aumont and Burrows Diamond for trainer Sue Smith in the colour of longstanding owners Neil and Julie Morgan.
Mania’s resurgence was capped by the Cheltenham Festival win on the Smith-trained Vintage Clouds for Trevor Hemmings.
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