Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Integrity Portal

Henry de Bromhead (Trainer) Prohibited Substance Referral – Tramore 4th June 2021

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke (in the chair), Mr. Peter N. Reynolds, and Ms. Meta Osborne convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday 12th May 2022 to consider whether or not Henry de Bromhead (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 21st June 2021 stated the urine Sample taken from Miss Tempo following her win in the Kilmeaden Mares Maiden Hurdle on 4th June 2021 at Tramore Racecourse, was confirmed by LGC Laboratories to contain flufenamic acid. Under Rule 20(v) and Regulation 14 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules flufenamic acid is a Prohibited Substance.

The option of ‘B’ sample analysis was requested by Mr. de Bromhead. This was confirmed as an adverse analytical finding for flufenamic acid on 26th July 2021.

Evidence was heard from Mr. de Bromhead and Dr. Lynn Hillyer, Head of Anti-Doping and Chief Veterinary Officer.

In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer outlined the details of the IHRB investigation. She confirmed that flufenamic acid is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which is not licenced for use in the horse. Human preparations are available in both oral and topical form. Dr. Hillyer stated that the finding was unusual in that it had not been reported previously in Ireland and she reported that international colleagues confirmed that flufenamic acid was recognised as a Prohibited Substance but had not been reported within memory. Dr. Hillyer explained that whilst flufenamic acid is a NSAID in its own right, it may also be present in a horse’s system as a result of the horse being exposed to a related NSAID, etofenamic acid. Etofenamic acid is available as a prescribed medication, Etoflam, a gel, which is applied topically. Dr Hillyer noted that an unannounced Out of Competition Testing inspection was carried out at Mr. de Bromhead’s premises on 8th July 2021 and that 25 horses were blood and hair-sampled, the subsequent results of those tests identified no unexplained substances including flufenamic or etofenamic acid. During the investigation, Mr. de Bromhead reported that Etoflam had been identified as being used by a member of his staff. Dr. Hillyer confirmed to the Committee that it was not possible to be certain how the finding in the Sample from Miss Tempo had originated but that the presence of the product on the yard may be relevant.  

In his evidence, Mr. de Bromhead stated that he was very surprised to be contacted about an adverse analytical finding following Miss Tempo’s win at Tramore. He confirmed that following two previous adverse analytical findings he had put measures in place to keep his Medicines Register up to date and to monitor correct withdrawal times prior to races. He stated that during the unannounced inspection he had shown the IHRB inspectors Miss Tempo and how she was a very free moving filly who had never needed any kind of medication or ointment of any kind. Mr. de Bromhead revealed that following his own investigations that a member of his staff was using a gel which contained etofenamic acid but he still could not be certain if this was the cause of the adverse analytical finding.

Having considered the evidence, Justice Groarke read out the following decision on behalf of the committee.

“We are satisfied that there has been a breach of Rule 96A in so far as that Miss Tempo was found to have a prohibited drug in her system. It follows as a result that we must disqualify her from the race in question, forfeit the stake and amend the race result accordingly. The only other issue which we have to consider is whether or not a fine should be imposed on Mr. de Bromhead. Of course in considering that, we must consider if we can determine how the horse came to have this prohibited substance in her system. As far as that is concerned, it is the first time that any racing authority has come upon this substance in a horse. Secondly, the substance is not one that is administered for treatment on a horse but is prescribed for treatment of a human being. Therefore, having considered the evidence, it seems to us to be extremely unlikely that any person would have used this particular product to physically put it on the horse. It is possible but unlikely. The other possibility, that is again only a possibility, is that one of the people who was looking after the horse had treated themselves with something containing the illicit substance and there was a passing of the drug from the human to the animal. That seems to be a real possibility, although we can’t say for definite because the evidence doesn’t support that it was what happened but it is a very real possibility to what did happen. That was done entirely without intent, entirely without any form of carelessness or foolishness even on the part of the human and the consequence was that the horse was contaminated. We cannot find fault on Mr. de Bromhead as the licenced trainer for what happened if the explanation is the one we find to be the most likely explanation, then Mr. de Bromhead is hardly at fault. This is such an unusual case that it doesn’t seem to the committee that anything could have been done by Mr. de Bromhead to avoid something of this nature actually happening. All reasonable care was taken by him and we are satisfied in the circumstances that the prohibited substance was administered unknowingly and that Mr. de Bromhead had taken all reasonable precautions to avoid a breach of the rule. In those circumstances we propose to waive any fine.”

The result now reads:

First:      Robyndeglory

Second: Molly Wedger

Third:    Wild Atlantic Lady (GB)

Fourth:  Belles Benefit 

Fifth:     Game And Glory

Sixth:     Gaudriole (FR)  


The case was presented by Ms. Béibhinn Murphy BL, instructed by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance. Mr. de Bromhead was represented by Mr. Sean Barton of McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors, Dublin 2.  

Copyright © 2018, I.H.R.B, All Rights Reserved.