Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

David Christie (Handler) Referral – East Antrim (H) at Loughanmore, 18th May 2019

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt, (in the chair), Mr. Laurence McFerran and Mr. Philip McLernon convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), The Curragh, Co Kildare on 19th August 2019 to consider whether or not David Christie (Handler) was in breach of any rules as a result of a report received from LGC Laboratories, Fordham, UK.


The report stated that the blood Sample taken from Pyrios (FR) following his win at Loughanmore, East Antrim (H) Point to Point on 18th May 2019 was found to contain lidocaine at a concentration exceeding the International Screening Limit (ISL) for the drug. Under Rule 20(v) and Regulation R14 as adopted by the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Regulations for Point to Point Steeplechases, lidocaine is a prohibited substance.


The trainer 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) and Mr. Christie.


In her evidence, Dr Hillyer outlined the IHRB’s investigation. Lidocaine is licensed for use as a local anaesthetic in horses for example to address minor wounds or ‘block’ lameness as part of a diagnostic workup. It is controlled by an ISL linked to a Detection Time of 72 days. The concentration of lidocaine in the blood Sample taken post-race was three to five times the ISL. Dr. Hillyer reported that Mr. Christie had said that the only substance that the horse had been administered ahead of the race was Biofreeze gel for a cut to a fetlock on the day of the race. The remains of the tube of Biofreeze gel used was submitted for analysis and found to contain lidocaine but at a concentration which was not consistent with the concentration reported in the Sample from Pyrios (IRE). An unopened ‘control’ tube of the same product was also sent for analysis but did not contain lidocaine.


In his evidence, Mr. Christie thanked Dr. Hillyer for her co-operation and admitted that he could not offer any explanation for the findings. He added that he was aware of a cut to the fetlock of Pyrios (FR) that was being treated topically by a member of his staff with Biofreeze gel on the morning of the race.


Having considered the evidence, the Committee were satisfied that Mr. Christie was in breach of Rule 96(a) as there was a prohibited substance present in the sample taken from the horse. They disqualified Pyrios (FR), ordered that the stake be forfeited and amended the result to read as follows:


First: Doran The Legend (only other finisher)


The Committee also imposed a €1,000 fine on Mr. Christie under Rule 96(a) as reasonable precautions had not been taken by the Trainer to avoid a breach of the rule.
The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance.


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