Irish National winner Fox one of three to test positive for cocaine metabolites
Irish Grand National-winning rider Ger Fox faces an uncertain future as he is understood to be one of three jump jockeys to have tested positive for metabolites of cocaine.
The others are believed to be amateur riders Roger Quinlan and Danny Benson.
Fox, who won last year's Irish Grand National on the Mouse Morris-trained Rogue Angel, did not want to comment on the matter when contacted by the Racing Post.
A popular member of the weigh room, the 28-year-old also won the 2015 Kerry National on Rogue Angel, while other big-race success came in the Cork National aboard Raz De Maree for Gavin Cromwell, his main employer this season and who supplies his three booked rides at Punchestown on Saturday.
Benson, 23, who claims 5lb, enjoyed a fine start to the season, riding five winners, including four for Noel Meade. But he has not ridden for Meade since September 8, no longer works for him, and could not be contacted for comment.
Quinlan, who claims 3lb, is one of the most respected and experienced riders on the point-to-point scene. He has partnered 174 winners in points, as well as 39 on the track, and steered the mighty Faugheen to victory on his point-to-point debut at Ballysteen in April 2012.
On Friday, he said he had not "been notified about it yet anyway" when asked to confirm if he was one of the riders who have fallen foul of the testers, but a number of sources have confirmed that he, Fox and Benson have tested positive for banned substances.
The tests are understood to have taken place at Galway's meeting on October 10, and the window is still open for the riders who returned positive tests to request the B sample be analysed.
All three could face bans of up to two years, although transgressions for recreational, rather than performance-enhancing, drugs tend to be truncated. Last year the former champion conditional rider Kevin Sexton tested positive for cocaine at Galway's summer festival. He was banned for two years but had 18 months of the prohibition suspended.
In 2015 apprentice Shane Kelly was handed a two-year ban, with one year suspended after testing positive for cocaine at Leopardstown, while Danny Grant is serving a three-year ban after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine for a third time in August 2016, although he will be able to reapply for a licence from March 2018.
Former champion Flat jockeys Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon have both been suspended for cocaine usage, Dettori for six months in 2013 and Fallon – who is now retired – serving an 18-month ban for his second positive test in 2008.
Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan would not comment on the issue, but the revelations raise concern about the extent to which cocaine usage is becoming an issue in the Irish weigh room. This is thought to be the first time that more than one rider has tested positive at the same meeting.