Tag Archive for: Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board

Samples taken from IHRB on horses at raided premises prove negative

Hair and blood samples taken from horses at a premises near Monasterevin earlier this month have tested negative for substances that are prohibited at all times, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has announced.

Animal remedies were seized at an address in County Kildare on November 9, in a raid led by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) officials and supported by gardai as well as IHRB staff.

At the time a DAFM spokesperson said: “This department-led operation involved searches and seizure of products as part of an ongoing investigation into equine doping.”

A statement from the IHRB on Tuesday regarding the samples it took from the horses that were there at the time read: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board can today confirm that the hair and blood samples taken from horses at a premises near Monasterevin, County Kildare, on November 9 2021 have been analysed at LGC laboratories and reported negative for prohibited at all times substances.

“As this is part of an ongoing investigation working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and other agencies, we cannot make any further comment at this time.”

Animal remedies seized in Ireland as part of ‘ongoing’ probe into equine doping

Animal remedies have been seized during a raid on an Irish farm as part of an investigation into equine doping.

The raid in Co Kildare was carried out on Tuesday, led by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) officials supported by gardai as well as Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) staff.

An IHRB spokesperson said: “IHRB officials were in attendance at an operation led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the gardai which led to a seizure of animal remedies.

“This is an active Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine investigation so we will be making no further comment at this time.”

A DAFM spokesperson said: “On Tuesday November 9, authorised officers acting on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine carried out an enforcement operation supported by gardai attached to the Kildare/Laois drug unit and officers from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

“This department-led operation involved searches and seizure of products as part of an ongoing investigation into equine doping.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this time.”

Rob James referral hearing to take place on Wednesday

A referral hearing into a video of Irish amateur jockey Rob James sitting on a dead horse will take place on Wednesday, after the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board concluded its investigation.

Just days after an image of Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse was posted on Twitter, a video of James – who rode the Elliott-trained Milan Native to victory at the Cheltenham Festival last year – emerged on the social media platform.

James has since apologised for his “wholly inappropriate and disrespectful” actions, and said he was “heartbroken by the damage” caused by the video, which was taken in 2016.

A Tweet on the Irish regulatory body’s feed on Tuesday read: “The IHRB investigation into a video circulating on social media last week has concluded, and a referral hearing will take place on Wednesday. The IHRB will not be commenting further on this matter until after the hearing.”

Following a referral hearing last Friday, Elliott was handed a 12-month ban, with the last six months suspended.

Gordon Elliott apologises ‘profoundly’ and offers ‘context’ to events that led to social media image

Gordon Elliott has said he “cannot apologise enough” after an investigation was launched by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board into an image of the Grand National-winning trainer circulating on social media.

The image was posted and widely shared on Twitter on Saturday, with the regulatory board of the sport in Ireland later tweeting: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are aware of an image circulating on social media and the matter is under investigation.”

It appeared to show Elliott sitting on a dead horse on the gallops – and while many people commented on social media that it looked fake, the County Meath handler said in a statement issued on Sunday evening: “I would like to address the speculation and rumours that have been rife since an old photo of me began circulating on social media yesterday afternoon.

“Firstly, I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused and can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed here at Cullentra.

“The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned.

Elliott has offered
Elliott has offered “context” for the image which appeared on Twitter (Simon Cooper/PA)

“I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished.

“Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing.

“However, I feel it is important to provide people with some context surrounding this photo. To the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by this image I cannot apologise enough.

“Horse welfare and the care and attention to detail involved is absolutely at the core of everything we do here and both myself and all of my team pride ourselves on those standards.

“Again I apologise for any offence caused and ask people to consider this statement as opposed to the various falsehoods and misinformation being circulated on social media.

“At this time I would like to stress that I continue to extend my full cooperation with the ongoing IHRB investigation.”

Speaking on Sunday lunchtime, an IHRB spokesman said: “The investigation is under way, and it will be dealt with as quickly as possible.”

The British Horseracing Authority welcomed the IHRB’s investigation, and is hoping for a swift resolution, calling the image “shocking”.

Elliott trains dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll
Elliott trains dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll (Brian Lawless/PA)

A spokesperson said: “We hope the Irish authorities will quickly confirm how this shocking picture originated.

“Respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport, contrary to the impression in this picture. The IHRB have assured us that the investigation will be carried out as quickly as possible and that they will keep us informed as more information becomes available.”

Elliott is a three-time Grand National winner, having sent out Silver Birch to claim the Aintree prize before Tiger Roll became the first back-to-back winner of the race since Red Rum when lifting the world-famous event in 2018 and 2019.

The 42-year-old also counts 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack among the best horses he has trained, with 32 Cheltenham Festival wins to his name so far.

Elliott houses a number of favourites for this year’s Festival, including Envoi Allen and Zanahiyr, while Tiger Roll himself is also due to run in the Glenfarclas Chase over Cheltenham’s cross-country fences.

Gordon Elliott ‘cooperating fully’ with IHRB investigation

Gordon Elliott has said he will be “cooperating fully” with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after an investigation was launched into a purported image of the leading trainer which was posted on social media on Saturday.

The image was posted and widely shared on Twitter, with the regulatory board of the sport in Ireland later tweeting: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are aware of an image circulating on social media and the matter is under investigation.”

The image appears to show Elliott sitting on a dead horse on the gallops – although many people have commented on social media that it looks fake.

Elliott responded from his official Twitter account.

He posted: “I’m aware of a photo in circulation on social media. The IHRB have been in contact with me regarding this photo and I will be cooperating fully with their investigation.”

Speaking on Sunday lunchtime, an IHRB spokesman said: “The investigation is under way, and it will be dealt with as quickly as possible.”

Elliott is a three-time Grand National winner, having sent out Silver Birch to claim the Aintree prize before Tiger Roll became the first back-to-back winner of the race since Red Rum when lifting the marathon event in 2018 and 2019.

Elliott with dual National hero Tiger Roll
Elliott with dual National hero Tiger Roll (Niall Carson/PA)

The County Meath handler also counts 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack among the best horses he has trained, with 32 Cheltenham Festival wins to his name so far.

Elliott houses a number of favourites for this year’s Festival, including Envoi Allen and Zanahiyr, while Tiger Roll himself is also due to run in the Glenfarclas Chase over Cheltenham’s cross-country fences.

The British Horseracing Authority has welcomed the IHRB’s investigation, and is hoping for a speedy resolution.

A spokesperson said: “We hope the Irish authorities will quickly confirm how this shocking picture originated.

“Respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport, contrary to the impression in this picture. The IHRB have assured us that the investigation will be carried out as quickly as possible and that they will keep us informed as more information becomes available.”

CCTV to be installed at all Irish racecourse stable yards

CCTV cameras are to be installed in every racecourse stable yard in Ireland as part of a range of new anti-doping measures to be introduced.

Leopardstown is currently the only one of the 26 tracks to have such equipment, a statistic which has come into wider focus following the recent high-profile case involving trainer Charles Byrnes.

The County Limerick-based trainer is awaiting a verdict from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s appeals panel after contesting the decision to suspend his licence for six months and fine him €1,000.

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh (left) has detailed the new powers to be introduced to assist in anti-doping
HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh (left) has detailed the new powers to be introduced to assist in anti-doping (PA)

Byrnes was handed the penalties after one of his horses tested positive for a prohibited substance following a race in which he was pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018.

The urine sample of Viking Hoard was found to contain hydroxyethylpromazinehydroxide (HEPS), a metabolite of acepromazine (ACP), which is a sedative and forbidden under the rules of racing.

The sedative is believed to have been administered in the stable yard on course by person or persons unknown while Byrnes and his son left the horse unattended for a brief period.

The Horse Racing Ireland board said it will provide funding for the installation of CCTV cameras in the stable yards at every racecourse, with tender documents to be published shortly by the IHRB.

In announcing a zero-tolerance regime, HRI intends to sample 4,000 plus horses in Ireland this year, with 600 samples to be taken at public auction and no-notice testing to be applied as the IHRB veterinary team has been granted authorised office status.

“Integrity around anti-doping is a top priority for the Irish racing and breeding industry,” said HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh.

“People who set out to intentionally break the rules and use prohibited substances will be identified and prosecuted. They have no place in Ireland’s world-renowned racing industry, and all industry bodies are committed to zero tolerance in this area.”

He was speaking at HRI’s announcement that new powers, new supports and new funding will be deployed to ensure continuous improvement in the area of anti-doping. HRI will work closely with all racing bodies to ensure Ireland continues to operate to the best international standards.

Under new powers granted to the IHRB by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, every thoroughbred in the country will in future be liable for testing without notice on both licensed (trainers) and unlicensed premises

“We know from the number of tests performed each year, and from the variety of testing methods used, that Ireland has a robust system which operates at or above agreed global standards,” said Kavanagh.

“Additionally, there is a stringent range of penalties that can be applied by the IHRB, which can go up to a lifetime ban for horses deliberately administered a substance prohibited at all times.

“In 2021, in excess of 4,000 samples will be taken from racehorses in Ireland by the IHRB, and in the region of 25 per cent will be out of competition tests or tests taken before horses come under the care of a licensed trainer. All samples are tested in an internationally accredited reference laboratory. In addition, approximately a further 600 samples will be taken from horses for sale at public auction.

“However, this is an area that we can never be complacent about – and Horse Racing Ireland has been working with the IHRB to bring about further improvements to the systems this year.

“Our efforts and investment remain focused on ensuring that Ireland’s €2billion equine industry, an industry that employs thousands of people and encourages significant foreign direct investment, operates one of the most comprehensive systems of testing of any racing or breeding jurisdiction in the world. This is as it should be, given the importance of the industry and the value of trade in Irish horses.

“Irish horses compete internationally more than any other country and are tested without issue under many different regimes, which gives us confidence as to our systems. We welcome the increased powers granted to the IHRB, which will further enhance the levels of out of competition and pre training testing in Ireland.”

Denis Egan, chief executive of the IHRB, said: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board welcome the continuous support of Horse Racing Ireland and obviously share the goals of HRI, and everyone in the racing and breeding industry, to continue towards delivering a gold standard in equine anti-doping systems.

“Anti-doping never stands still. Our strategy has always been to take the right sample from the right horse at the right time. This has been one of the main drivers of a greater move towards out-of-competition testing, which in 2019 represented 18 per cent of all samples taken – up from seven per cent in 2016. In percentage terms the total number of runners tested in Ireland – at 10 per cent – is comparable to other jurisdictions.

“The appointment of IHRB officials as Authorised Officers will give the IHRB powers to access any Thoroughbred which is bred to race, at any time. No racing authority has greater powers when it comes to inspections and sampling, and this will further enhance our ability to deliver an equine anti-doping programme that is one of the best in the world.”