IHRB still waiting on results of samples taken from raided yard

Calls increasing for results of all tests on horses in the yard to be made public

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is still awaiting results of samples taken from racehorses at the Co Kildare yard raided by Garda and Department of Agriculture Food & Marine (DAFM) officials almost two weeks ago.

Hair and blood samples were taken by IHRB personnel at the Monasterevin stables where controversial equine therapist John Warwick operated from and which has been at the centre of intense speculation since the raid took place.

Animal medicines not licensed for use in Ireland and found in Warwick's possession were seized by the DAFM.

Warwick, who has a long history of working with horses with leg problems on both sides of the Irish Sea, has insisted there was “no dope” but conceded he broke the rules relating to unauthorised medicines here.


It could take months for details of the drugs seized by the DAFM, and examined by them, to emerge publicly.

However, former champion jockey and pundit Ruby Walsh has been among leading racing figures who have called for the results of tests carried out by the IHRB on all thoroughbreds that were in the yard to be made public.

“I feel the IHRB needs to break with tradition here and make positive and negative findings public,” Walsh wrote in the Irish Examiner at the weekend.

“As it stands, only positive findings are published because traditionally the negatives are not news. But they are now. Until the results appear all we can do is speculate,” he added.

The IHRB declined to comment on Monday about whether or not it would release details of the samples taken.

However, privately, and despite fear of the dangers of an information vacuum relating to such a high-profile incident, there appears to be acceptance in regulatory circles that test results are unlikely to be released.

Fears about prejudicing any potential DAFM led court case, or compromising any hearing that might arise within racing’s own referral system, is believed to currently outweigh disquiet about harm to the sport’s reputation.

The drugs issue within Irish racing has come under scrutiny this year in particular on the back of Jim Bolger's claims that doping is the sport's number one problem and that he doesn't believe a level playing field exists.

Those claims, which have been rejected by the Irish Racehorses Trainers Association, led to a series of hearings by the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee who issued a report on the same day of the Warwick raid that gave a vote of confidence to the IHRB's drug testing systems.

Separately, reports that the DAFM raid was prompted by the Monasterevin premises having been staked out by a private investigator hired by a group of British-based trainers have prompted dismay among some of their Irish colleagues.

One trainer based in Ireland, who didn’t want to be named but was adamant he spoke for many others, described any such move as “outrageous” on Monday. They also pointed out that much of Warwick’s work over the years has been in Britain.

There is likely to be an Anglo-Irish element on the actual racing front this weekend with a handful of runners from this country in Saturday's featured Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

Willie Mullins’s Total Recall is the only Irish-trained winner of a race formerly known as the Hennessy in the last 40 years although Be My Royal won in 2002 for the champion trainer only to later test positive for a prohibited substance.

Mullins could be triple-handed on Saturday with the Munster National winner Ontheropes immediately made a 9-2 favourite by the big-race sponsors. His stable companions Brahma Bull and Annamix were also left in at Monday's acceptance stage.

Enrilo, trained by Paul Nicholls, and Colin Tizzard's Fiddlerontheroof are among the leading home hopes.

Competitive handicaps

Henry De Bromhead, successful with A Plus Tard in Haydock's Betfair Chase, has both the topweight Chris's Dream and Eklat De Rire in one of the most competitive handicaps of the winter campaign.

Rachael Blackmore will team up with a quartet of promising De Bromhead-trained novices at Tuesday's Punchestown programme.

The Minella Indo colours of Barry Maloney will be on Life In The Park in a hot looking auction maiden hurdle.

This one was a likely winner when tipping up at the last in a decent looking point-to-point last spring and takes on the bumper winner Hunter’s Yarn. Unseasonably quick ground conditions could favour Life In The Park more.

Brian Acheson’s Robcour colours will be on both Gentleman Joe and Grand Jury in earlier maiden hurdles.

The latter is a point to point winner who impressed in a bumper at the track in March and looks a pacy enough sort to like these conditions.

Gentleman Joe brings an impressive flat rating to his new discipline. Third to the subsequent Irish Derby runner up Lone Eagle in a Goodwood Listed race on his last start, he takes on a number of other flat winners as well as Brazil, a full brother to the Irish Derby winner Capri.

In other news, a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing into allegations of bullying and harassment against Irish jockey Robbie Dunne will begin next week (November 30th).

Six days have been set aside for the hearing which centres around a complaint made by another rider, Bryony Frost.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column