Former champion apprentice Marco Ghiani has had his licence withdrawn for six months after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine.

The rider was tested at Newcastle on August 25th this year and subsequently handed an interim suspension whilst disciplinary proceedings were arranged.

Ghiani admitted taking cocaine on two occasions, latterly two days before the positive test, and via his legal representative, Rory MacNeice, did not challenge the findings of the British Horseracing Authority.

The panel of Philip Curl, Alison Royston and Dr Lyn Griffiths agreed to withdraw Ghiani’s licence for a period of six months, backdated to September 5th to allow for the period he has already spent suspended.

Ghiani was crowned champion apprentice in 2021 and has enjoyed notable successes for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, for whom he won the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury and the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York – all aboard Real World last season.

Representing the jockey, MacNeice told the panel. “Mr Ghiani accepts the breach and accepts that he will serve a penalty at the top of the range of six months and he does not ask or seek from you a discount for making those admissions.

“Mr Ghiani recognises that this was a very grave error of judgement on his behalf. He has reflected considerably on how he got into this position.

“Mr Ghiani is hugely embarrassed by these events, he has apologised unreservedly and he does so again today. Not just to you, the BHA, but to all of those who have supported him.