Jump jockey 31-year-old Danny Cook has been banned for six months after returning a positive drugs test for a metabolite of cocaine. Cook admitted the offence when he attended a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing in London on Thursday morning, and will be banned until 24 August for making what his solicitor, described as “a catastrophic error of judgment”. Many top horseracing experts predict this will be the end of his career though. Cook had given a urine sample to a BHA testing team at Musselburgh on the first of February, a meeting at which he had six booked rides.
In a statement following the hearing, the panel said that it had decided on the penalty “notwithstanding Cook’s co-operation post-notification of the positive test, because as an experienced jockey, taking a substance, which later proved to be an illegal Class A drug, the night before he was booked to take six rides, was a serious matter”.
Speaking on Cook’s behalf, his lawyers said: “Danny made what he described as a catastrophic error of judgement in taking cocaine when on a rare night out earlier this year. He has been given a six-month suspension which is in line with the BHA’s penalty guidance and Danny entirely accepts that penalty.”
Cook has not ridden since 24 February, when the news of his positive test emerged, but had already recorded 31 winners in the current season, his best total in 13 years with a licence. Nineteen of his winners came for the Brian Ellison stable while seven more were saddled by Sue Smith, whose Wakanda gave Cook only the second Grade Two win of his career in a novice chase at Haydock in January. Prior to Thursday’s hearing, the most significant bans on Cook’s record occurred when he took the wrong course during a race on three separate occasions in little more than a year. He was banned for 12, 28 and then 22 days for the three offences.
Cook is not alone in this offence as earlier this year Irish Jockey Danny Grant was also suspended for six months after he failed a drugs test at the Curragh on March 23 2014. Grant, was officially handed a two-year riding ban by the Irish Turf Club, but the last 18 months of the disqualification period was suspended under the assumption he does not fail another test. A top betting pick would suggest that this will not be the last Jockey who will be banned for a similar event, what do you think?