PHILIP Fenton trained his first winner since returning after a three-year ban as 25/1 shot Secret Cargo broke his duck at Tramore.
Fenton was banned from the training ranks, and without a runner between December 2014 and July last year, after he was found to be in possession of anabolic steroids.
It was Secret Cargo’s racecourse debut, in a Killarney bumper six months ago, which marked the return of the County Tipperary trainer.
The gelding finished sixth that day, and had since fared best from five subsequent runs when a 10-length runner-up in a maiden hurdle at Wexford in October.
The five-year-old made no mistake, though, in Tramore’s Introducing Racing TV Handicap Hurdle – pouncing after the last under Brian Hayes to win going away by two and three-quarter lengths from Lord Boru.
Former Cheltenham Festival and Irish Gold Cup-winning trainer Fenton could therefore celebrate a watershed success, and reflect on his absence.
“Funnily enough the time (of the ban) went by quick enough,” he said. “I was never in any doubt that I’d return to training.”
Fenton, who initially insisted otherwise when his ban first elapsed at the end of 2017, has had just a handful of runners so far since last July – with six racecourse appearances from five horses other than Secret Cargo.
“We have five or six in, and it’s enough to keep the show on the road,” he added, voicing his hope that a successful handicap debut can prove a stepping stone for the winner.
“Little fish are sweet,” he said. “He has some bit of a future and he is big enough to jump a fence.”