Top drivers suspended

By Michael Guerin

Two of New Zealand’s leading harness racing drivers face eight-week suspensions after failing blood alcohol tests at a Canterbury race meeting.

Premiership leader Blair Orange and recent group one winning trainer-driver Bob Butt both returned blood alcohol breathalyser results over racing’s allowed limit at the Motukarara meeting in Canterbury on January 24.

The pair were both tested before the races started and after being above the limit for harness drivers, which is lower than for drivers of a motor vehicle, both were stood down from driving for the day.

Both men have failed raceday blood alcohol tests on one previous occasion and have now been handed eight week suspensions of their racing driver’s licences.

Butt started his suspension this week while Orange starts his on Tuesday.

The pair will also have to see a councillor specialising in alcohol problems.

Orange is New Zealand’s top harness racing driver and told the New Zealand Herald he apologises to those inside the industry and punters.

“I am very remorseful over what happened and will try and make amends,” said Orange.

“I went to two functions the night before and had a bit to drink and was home just after midnight, woke up feeling ok and went to work not thinking anything of it.

“So I was surprised and disappointed to blow a positive test and I am looking forward to working through how I can deal with alcohol better.”

The suspension come a few months after champion jockey Chris Johnson was also suspended for the same offence.

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