Benoit de la Sayette, 18, set to resume career next month after cocaine ban

Star apprentice jockey Benoit de la Sayette could return to race-riding next month after serving a ban for cocaine use.

The teenager, who made headlines when winning the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on March 27, is on-course to race again from October 17.

At a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing on Thursday, De La Sayette was banned for six months, backdated to an interim suspension imposed on April 17.

The rider, who had 12 winners from 49 rides, said he stopped taking cocaine when he left shared accommodation to return to the family home in February.

But Ciara McElvogue, representing the BHA, presented evidence suggesting 'the likely use of cocaine in the period of January to March."

Enquiry chairman Tim Charlton QC said: "This panel is nevertheless concerned about the fact that you have on the face of it been using cocaine after you had returned home.

"That's a possibility that the expert evidence opens and therefore being at home does not seem on that expert evidence to have cured the problem you had with the use of cocaine.

"That's a matter you will need to confront, perhaps, when you come before the licensing committee."

De La Sayette admitted breaching Rule (K)49 – which states a jockey must ensure that no banned substance is present in their body.

A hair sample collected from him on March 31 returned positive for metabolites of cocaine.

De La Sayette's evidence at the enquiry stated that he used the Class A drug on "three or four" times at parties between August 2020 and January 2021.

The sportsman, who has held an apprentice licence since July 2020, made a flying start to his career while employed by top trainer John Gosden.

"There is no suggestion on behalf of the BHA or any evidence that Mr De La Sayette ever rode in a race whilst under the influence of cocaine. The sample which was taken out of competition," Ms McElvogue said.

In May De La Sayette was interviewed and Ms McElvogue reported that he made "full and frank admissions" about taking the drug having fallen in with "a bad crowd".

Explaining the change he made, De La Sayette's legal representative Rory Mac Neice said. "He has largely lived a life of going to work at Mr Gosden's yard and then spending his evenings with his parents at home.

"Mr De La Sayette has made a mistake and he entirely understands and embraces that and he won't be the first teenager to have done so – and he possibly won't be the last."

At the time of the positive test being announced, De La Sayette released a statement through the Professional Jockeys' Association.

It said: "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."

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