There were plenty of blushes to go around but they stopped at the door of Buckingham Palace.
Still, the royal household had to do the right thing after it was revealed that a certain important racehorse was among five that tested positive for a banned substance.
And the right thing was to own up, even if horse and owner were not named. Yes, the horse was Estimate. Yes, the owner is Queen Elizabeth II. And yes, the animal failed a doping test.
That would have been the end of the story, except that in the right royal tradition of rigid British protocol, the Queen must be above it all.
John Warren, her racing adviser, was quick to take the reins: “Initial indications are that the positive test resulted from the consumption of a contaminated feed product,” the Financial Times quoted him as saying in a statement.
In fact, the “feed product” was morphine which is allowed in training but illegal on race days.
The five-year-old mare, which won British flat-racing’s prestigious Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last year, was last week revealed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to be one of five then unnamed horses to have tested positive for morphine in post-racing tests.
Buckingham Palace decided to make public that Estimate was one of the horses involved in light of rumors about a high-profile name, the report said.
The revelation embarrassed the Queen’s racing staff but there’s no evidence anyone involved has engaged in improper behaviour.
Warren said she had been informed of the situation.
BHA insiders said it was likely that all five horses ingested contaminated horse feed. More than a decade ago, a clutch of horses similarly tested positive for morphine as a result of a contaminated feed.
Estimate was tested after coming second in this year’s Gold Cup. Under racing rules, the horse is likely to be disqualified, which involves forfeiture of prize money, the report said.
The Queen may be a little poorer but she has saved her blushes.
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