Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

John J. Hanlon (Trainer) Referral - Galway, 2nd Aug, 2018

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt (in the chair), Mr. N.P. Lambert and Mr. Anthony Byrne met at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Tuesday 18th September 2018, to consider reports from LGC Laboratories, Cambridgeshire, UK, that the Sample taken from “Camlann” following his win in the Open Gate Brewery Handicap at Galway on 2nd August, 2018, was found to contain cobalt. Under Rule 20(v) of the Rules of Racing, cobalt is a substance prohibited at all times when present in concentrations above the international threshold of 100 ng/ml as set out in Rule 20(v) and Regulation 14 of the Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules.

The trainer, Mr. Hanlon did not request the “B” portion of the Sample to be analysed.

Evidence was heard from Dr. Lynn Hillyer, IHRB Chief Veterinary Officer/Head of Anti-Doping regarding the investigation into the adverse analytical finding, from Associate Professor Mr. Stuart Paine, University of Nottingham, who provided an expert report and from Mr. Hanlon.

In her evidence Dr. Hillyer advised that cobalt is an essential micronutrient needed for vitamin B12 synthesis in the equine caecum and colon which is absorbed from the horse’s diet and that broadly speaking it can be present in samples taken from horses because they’ve either been given supplemental vitamin B12 and/or inorganic cobalt. Both are permitted in horses in training but must be withdrawn in enough time that the amount of cobalt in the horse on raceday is below internationally agreed thresholds. These thresholds were established because of concerns about performance and welfare when cobalt is given in high concentrations. Dr. Hillyer described the IHRB’s extensive investigation into the result in the sample from “Camlann”, which included unannounced testing of the horse and others, analysis of supplements reported as given to him and correspondence with Mr. Hanlon.

In his submission, Professor Paine advised that the information provided by the IHRB and analysis carried out by LGC laboratory indicated that the horse had either been injected with a vitamin B12 product containing cobalt or been given an extremely large amount of such a product by mouth within the 12-hour period prior to the sample being taken on the evening of 2nd August.

In his evidence Mr. Hanlon stated that the horse was receiving an oral supplement which contained cobalt and vitamin B12 however it was not administered to the horse on the day of the race. He stated that he did not know the source of the adverse analytical finding and could not provide any explanation.

Having considered the evidence the Committee were satisfied that Mr. Hanlon was in breach of Rule 96(a). They disqualified “Camlann”, ordered that the stake be forfeited and amended the result of the race to read as follows:-

First:                Make it Hurrah

Second:            Magic Sea (IRE)

Third:               Song of the Sky (GB)

Fourth:             El Tren (IRE)

Fifth:                Guido Reni (IRE)

In considering penalty the Committee noted that this was not the first occasion of apparently unexplained race day exposure to a prohibited substance in respect of Mr. Hanlon and the current case in question was serious in nature resulting in a strong argument for the withdrawal of licence from the trainer. It was noted that the evidence adduced by the IHRB indicated that the horse had been exposed to the substance on the day of racing which would constitute a breach of Rule 87(vii)(d).

The Committee imposed an 18-month suspension of licence however used their powers under Rule 19 (A) (8)(ix) to suspend the sanction for a period of 3 years. Mr. Hanlon was advised that if he comes to the notice of the Referrals Committee for a similar breach of Rule 96 committed within 3 years of today’s date the 18-month suspension will be activated in addition to any further sanction imposed for the later breach. For the avoidance of doubt it was noted that the relevant date for any future case would be the date of breach and not the date of the hearing. The Committee also imposed a fine of €7,000 and awarded costs of €2,000 to the IHRB.

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


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