Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

David Christie (Handler) Prohibited Substance Referrals – Route (H) at Portrush 17th October 2020 and Waterford (F) at Curraghmore 31st October 2020

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt, (in the chair), Mr. Peter M. Allen and Mr. Anthony Byrne convened via Zoom on Thursday, 7th January 2021 to consider whether or not David Christie (Handler) was in breach of any rules as a result of two reports received from LGC Laboratories, Fordham, UK.

The first report stated that the blood sample taken from Ask D’Man, following his win in the Gormley’s Pharmacy and Jazz Horses 6-year-old plus geldings Maiden at Route (H) Point to Point at Portrush on 17th October 2020, was found to contain dexamethasone. The second report stated that the blood sample taken from Some Man, following his win in the Vincent Halley Racing Open at Waterford (F) Point to Point at Curraghmore on 31st October 2020, was also found to contain dexamethasone. Under Rule 20(v) and Regulation R14 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules dexamethasone is a prohibited substance.

The handler accepted both ‘A’ sample results and declined the option to have the ‘B’ sample analysed.

Evidence was heard from Dr. Lynn Hillyer, IHRB Chief Veterinary Officer and Head of Anti-Doping, Mr. Christie and Mr. Eric Smith, Veterinary Surgeon, while the Committee also considered an investigation report prepared by Dr. Hillyer into both adverse analytical findings.

In her evidence, Dr Hillyer summarised the investigation into the adverse analytical finding in both horses. She confirmed that dexamethasone is a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties used to treat a variety of conditions in horses including lameness and respiratory disease. In respect of Ask D’Man, she stated that Mr. Christie confirmed Ask D’Man had been treated by his Veterinary Surgeon Eric Smith with Dexafort Suspension for Injection, a licensed product containing dexamethasone, for a ‘dirty nose’ on 6th October and he had continued the treatment under his Vet’s guidance. These administrations were recorded in his Medicines Register, with the last administration being on 9th October. In respect of Some Man, she stated that Mr. Christie confirmed Some Man had been treated by his Veterinary Surgeon Eric Smith with Dexafort following a ‘dirty scope’ on 6th October and he had continued the treatment under his Vet’s guidance. These administrations were recorded in his Medicines Register, with the last administration prior to the race being on 20th October.

Dr. Hillyer stated that when administered by intravenous injection as the clear liquid Dexadreson at a single dose of 15 ml for a 500 kg horse, the European Horserace Scientific Liaison Committee published Detection Time for dexamethasone is 5 days. Veterinary surgeons are advised to use this Detection Time as the basis for advising trainers of a longer, suitable Withdrawal Time based on any variation to this dose and/or formulation. In both these cases, Dr. Hillyer was of the opinion, based on the differences in formulation and route of administration between Dexadreson and Dexafort, that a withdrawal time in excess of 7 days was necessary following the intramuscular injections of Dexafort given by Mr. Christie.

In his evidence, Mr. Christie stated that all administrations were under the guidance of his vet and he followed his advice at all times.

Mr. Smith explained that he had prescribed a different product containing dexamethasone than usual in using Dexafort rather than his more usual aqueous solution of Colvasone. He explained that he advised Mr. Christie how to treat these horses over the phone rather than treating them himself due to the ongoing situation with the Covid-19 pandemic. He was of the opinion that 7 days would be an appropriate withdrawal time for a standard dose of Colvasone as a preparation similar to Dexadreson, he now realised it was not long enough for Dexafort.

Having considered the evidence, the Committee were satisfied that Mr. Christie was in breach of Rule 96(a) in both cases as a prohibited substance was present in the samples taken from Ask D’Man at Route (H) Point to Point at Portrush and from Some Man at Waterford (F) Point to Point at Curraghmore. They disqualified both horses and amended the results to read as follows:

Route (H) at Portrush - Gormley’s Pharmacy and Jazz Horses 6-year-old plus geldings Maiden

First:     Outside The Ring
Second:     Loughhill

 

Waterford (F) at Curraghmore - Vincent Halley Racing Open

First:     Coastal Tiep (FR)
Second:     Springfield Lodge

 

The Committee also imposed a €1,000 fine on Mr. Christie in respect of both breaches, however they waived both fines under Rule 96(a) as they were of the opinion that Mr. Christie had taken all reasonable precautions to avoid a breach of this rule in both instances as he adhered to the advice of his Veterinary Surgeon.

The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance.


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