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Newbury vet struck off the register



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James Main was struck off after injecting one of the Queen's horses with a banned blood-clotting agent

A NEWBURY vet struck off after injecting one of the Queen's horses with a banned blood-clotting agent has said he is “deeply shocked and disappointed” at the decision.

James Main, a 51-year-old partner in O'Gorman Slater Main and Partners, of Donnington Grove Veterinary Surgery, Oxford Road - one of Newbury's most established practices - was banned for his role in an incident that also saw renowned Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson fined £40,000 in July 2009 and suspended from entering races for three months.

At a week-long tribunal at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in London, Mr Main admitted injecting six-year-old mare Moonlit Path with a 20ml dose of Tranexamic Acid (TA) on February 19, 2009 in breach of British Horseracing Authority (BHA) rules, just hours before she made her racecourse debut at Huntingdon.

The horse, which finished sixth in the race, was later the subject of a random, post-race drug test and tested positive for the acid.

However, the equine surgeon, who has been a partner at the Newbury veterinary practice since 1989, said the horse's welfare was his primary concern and he denied that he knew, or ought to have known, TA was a prohibited substance that should not be present at the time of a race.

Giving evidence, Mr Main said Moonlit Path had a history of bleeding, adding that he injected the horse at Mr Henderson's yard at Seven Barrows because he did not want it to ‘drop down dead.'

However, Alison Foster QC, for the RCVS, said Mr Main had been prepared to break a very important rule.

She described allegations that Mr Main tried to conceal the injection as an effort to create ‘a paper trail that would conceal from prying eyes the true nature of the treatment.'

She said: “The system of deceit supports the fact that he knew his actions were in breach of the rules of racing.”

Kieran Coonan QC, defending Mr Main, said his client's admission to injecting Moonlit Path was based on the fact he ‘assumed' Mr Henderson would know he was ‘deliberately' breaching the rules in the interests of the horse's welfare, adding that he did not believe what he did and why he did it to be dishonest.

But RCVS Prof Sheila Crispin said it was inconceivable that an experienced equine veterinary surgeon in Mr Main's position could not have known the rules.

She said Mr Main was well aware of the prohibition that no substance was permitted to be given to a horse on a race day other than normal food and water until after the horse had left the racecourse.

She said the committee concluded that the facts clearly amounted to a disgraceful conduct in a professional respect and the panel ruled that although there was no attempt to alter the performance of the horse, Mr Main's behaviour was ‘wholly unacceptable and so serious' that erasure from the register was required.

In a statement after the hearing, Mr Main said: “I am deeply shocked and disappointed. The prospect of not being able to earn a living as a vet is a matter of grave concern and I would like a bit of time to consider my options with my legal advisers as to whether I appeal to the Privy Council or not.”

Mr Main added that he only sought to act in the interests of Moonlit Path's welfare, as he said he did for all animals in his care and he apologised to everyone involved in the “painful saga”, including Mr Henderson and his staff, the partners at Mr Main's practice and his wife and family.

He said: “The committee accepted that my primary concern throughout was the welfare of the horse, although there are actions that I deeply regret and that, with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done differently.”

The partners at his Newbury surgery said they had nothing to add while Mr Main was considering his options, although they said they stood by the character references they submitted to the RCVS in support of Mr Main.

Meanwhile, Mr Henderson, who was previously found guilty at a BHA hearing of administering the drug on the day of racing without permission from a course vet and failing to record the treatment, was unavailable for comment this week.

At the BHA hearing, which was not attended by Mr Main, Mr Henderson was also found guilty of administering a banned substance either with the intention of affecting her performance on February 19, 2009, or knowing her performance could be affected.



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