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James McAuley (Trainer) Prohibited Substance Referral – Out of Competition Testing 14th March 2022

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Peter M. Allen (in the chair) Mr. Laurence McFerran and Mr. Finbarr Cahill convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday 17th November 2022 to consider whether or not James McAuley (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 20th April, 2022, stated the blood sample taken from Helen de Pourtales at an Out of Competition Inspection on 14th March 2022, was confirmed by LGC Laboratories to contain trendione. Under Rule 20(v), 96 (c) and Regulation 14 of the Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, trendione is a prohibited at all times substance.


The option of ‘B’ Sample analysis was declined by Mr. McAuley, therefore he accepted the result of the ‘A’ sample analysis.


At the Referral Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. McAuley and Dr. Lynn Hillyer, IHRB Chief Veterinary Officer and Head of Equine Anti-Doping.


In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer outlined details of the IHRB investigation. She explained that trendione is an anabolic steroid and as such a prohibited at all times substance under the Rules of Racing in Ireland. Dr. Hillyer explained that concerns raised internationally since 2018 about being associated with use of Regumate, a product licensed for use in the horse to control oestrus in females, had resulted in use of the product in horses in training being restricted by several jurisdictions including Ireland. This restriction in Ireland was lifted in 2019 based on available information indicating that the adverse welfare consequences of less efficacious, potentially unsafe means of managing oestrus in the female Thoroughbred outweighed the risks of the reported contaminant. This decision was published by the IHRB with the clear caveat that should trendione/trenbolone be detected in a sample, they would be considered as adverse analytical findings. Dr. Hillyer confirmed that Mr. McAuley provided veterinary evidence that Regumate had been prescribed and administered to Helen de Pourtales under veterinary direction. A sample of the product Regumate and syringe used was provided to the IHRB for analysis and this analysis confirmed the presence of altrenogest and trendione. Dr. Hillyer confirmed that the investigation had provided a likely source of the adverse analytical finding in that Regumate was recorded as administered to the filly for eight days from 10thMarch 2022.


In his evidence, Mr. McAuley stated that he had administered Regumate to Helen de Pourtales and another filly under his care and he didn’t dispute the findings of the IHRB. He admitted that he wasn’t aware of the background to concerns raised in 2018 about Regumate as he didn’t hold a Trainers licence at that time and was relying on veterinary advice but accepted that he should have been more aware of the situation himself. 


Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee noted that the availability of Regumate for appropriate administration to control oestrus in female Thoroughbreds is preferable according to the IHRB and that the situation regarding Regumate is being continually monitored by the veterinary profession. They also noted the current lack of a licensed alternative medication to Regumate. As the sample taken from Helen du Pourtales did confirm as an adverse analytical finding, the Referrals Committee found Mr. McAuley in breach of Rule 96(c). However, in the specific circumstances surrounding this case they did not impose a financial penalty on this occasion.


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

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