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Ellmarie Holden (Trainer) Referral – Out Of Competition Inspection 8th February 2022

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke, (in the chair), Mr. Anthony Byrne, and Mr. Finbar Cahill convened in the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday, 16th February 2023 to consider whether or not Ms. Ellmarie Holden (Trainer) was in breach of any rules of racing as a result of a report received from LGC Laboratories, Newmarket, England.


The report received on 9th March 2022 confirmed that the hair samples taken from Killahy, Winchmore Hill and Feronily were confirmed by LGC Laboratories to contain clenbuterol. Under Rule 20(v) and Regulation 14 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase clenbuterol is a prohibited at all times substance unless prescribed by a veterinary surgeon.  


The option of ‘B’ sample analysis was declined by Ms. Holden, therefore accepting the result of the ‘A’ sample analysis.  


Evidence was heard from Ms. Holden, Dr. Oscar Mazzarello, Veterinary Surgeon and Dr. Lynn Hillyer, Head of Anti-Doping and Chief Veterinary Officer.


In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer outlined the details of the IHRB investigations. Dr. Hillyer explained that during the investigations into these adverse analytical findings, no records which would have accounted for the findings had been documented in the Medicines Register. Dr. Hillyer stated that copies of prescriptions were subsequently provided in March 2022 by Dr. Mazzarello. Dr. Hillyer said that Dr. Mazzarello provided the prescriptions and a cover letter confirming the use of Ventipulmin for the treatment of nasal discharge and coughing in the horses between September and November 2021. Dr. Hillyer added that the period of exposure to Ventipulmin was consistent with the findings in the hair reported by LGC.


In his evidence, Dr. Mazzarello explained that he has been Ms. Holden’s veterinary surgeon for five years. He confirmed that he had treated a number of horses for equine asthma and to get rid of mucus. Dr. Mazzarello explained that he would use Ventipulmin regularly to help stop coughing and to bring out mucus in horses who were not ready for racing. He said due to concerns over its withdrawal time and the variable factors such as place of administration and the metabolism of each horse, it is not something he uses close to race time. Dr. Mazzarello explained that he has a bookkeeper who uses a Mobile App for filing prescriptions and that these would sometimes be delivered by him or alternatively posted out.


In her evidence, Ms. Holden accepted that she did not have a good system for keeping her Medicines Register up to date and complete. She confirmed that Dr. Mazzarello had been her veterinary surgeon for five years and that he would provide the prescriptions but accepted that it was her responsibility to complete the Medicines Register in accordance with the Rules of Racing.


Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee found Ms. Holden in breach of Rule 148(iii)(b) in that she had failed to keep her Medicines Register complete and imposed a fine of €3,000.  Notwithstanding the finding in relation to the Medicines Register, the Committee determined that the medication had been administered in accordance with a veterinary surgeon’s directions and did not make a finding of a breach under Rule 96(b).


The case was presented by Ms. Clíodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance, and Ms. Holden was represented by Mr. Frank Crean, BL, instructed by Mr. Kevin Power of Maurice Power Solicitors, Kilmallock, County Limerick.


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