Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Integrity Portal

John Joseph Murphy (Trainer) Prohibited Substance Referral – Cork 7th August 2021

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt (in the chair), Mr. Nicholas Wachman, and Mr. Laurence McFerran convened in the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday, 26th August 2022 to consider whether or not Mr. John Murphy (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 August 2021 stated the urine sample taken from Ten Ten Twenty following his win in the second division of the Thanks To All The Frontline Workers Handicap, was confirmed by LGC Laboratories to contain meloxicam. Under Rule 20(v) and Regulation R14 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules meloxicam is a prohibited substance. 

The option of ‘B’ sample analysis was declined by Mr. Murphy, who in doing so accepted the result of the analysis of the ‘A’ sample.

Evidence was heard from Dr. Lynn Hillyer, Head of Anti-Doping and Chief Veterinary Officer and submissions were made on behalf of Mr. Murphy by Mr. Denis Linehan, solicitor. 

In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer outlined the details of the IHRB investigation. She explained that meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used in equine practice. It has effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and so is used to treat inflammation and pain, sometimes in combination with other medications. Dr. Hillyer said that it is usually administered intravenously and has a published detection time of 72 hours associated with a screening limit when meloxicam is administered as the following product and dose: Meloxicam Metacam Boehringer Ingelheim 0.6mg/kg for 14 days, once daily Oral (8) 72 hours.

Dr. Hillyer said that as part of the investigation Mr. Murphy sent a copy of his Medicines Register and the page relating to Ten Ten Twenty contained an entry for Recocam recorded as administered orally at a dose of 10ml on 4th August under the direction of Mr. P. O’Donnell, veterinary surgeon. This is prescription only medicine which must be supplied on foot of a veterinary prescription. Dr. Hillyer explained that following a call with Mr. Murphy she subsequently obtained the prescription, which was for a different horse, Hot Sauce. Mr. Murphy confirmed to Dr. Hillyer that he had administered some of the 100ml bottle to Ten Ten Twenty for stiffness late on the evening of the 4th August and had done so without the direction of Mr. O’Donnell. Mr. Murphy informed Dr. Hillyer that to the best of his recollection he had put the solution for injection into the feed pot of Ten Ten Twenty and accepted that he should not have administered the product in this way but felt it was the right thing by the horse at the time.

Dr. Hillyer added that Mr. Murphy had been extremely cooperative as part of the investigation but in treating a horse with a prescription only veterinary medicine had failed to comply with the rules of racing and relevant legislation in this regard.

On behalf of Mr. Murphy, Mr. Linehan stated that Mr. Murphy has at all times accepted he was in breach of Rule 96(a) in that the horse had shown the presence of a prohibited substance on a raceday. He confirmed that Mr. Murphy’s recollection was that he had administered the substance by putting it in Ten Ten Twenty’s feed on the evening of the 4th August and in hindsight with a 72 hour detection time it was inevitable the substance would be detected when the horse ran on the 7th August and it did, for which he apologises.

Having considered the evidence, Chairman of the Referrals Committee, Justice Hunt, read out the following decision on behalf of the committee.

“The findings in the sample established a breach of Rule 96(a), for which the trainer is responsible under the provisions of Rule 148(i).  Therefore, the Committee ordered that the horse be disqualified from the race in question, that the Judges placings be amended accordingly, and that the winning stake be forfeited.

As to the sanction on the trainer, the Committee noted that this was the first breach of this Rule by him and that Dr. Hillyer had given evidence of a significant degree of cooperation by the trainer with her investigations into this matter.  However, despite the previous clean record and the subsequent admissions and cooperation, this offence was serious and above the level of minimum gravity by reason of Mr. Murphy’s reckless decision to deploy unused medicine that had been prescribed for an older broodmare to a younger animal engaged in competition and did so entirely without veterinary supervision or authorisation.  This represented a significant breach of his responsibilities as a licensed trainer.

Therefore, the Committee imposed a fine of €3,500 in respect of the breach of Rule 96(a).  In addition, the Committee found a distinct and separate breach of the obligation to keep a correct Medicines Register under Rule 148(iii). Although Mr. Murphy had subsequently explained this matter, the initial record entered in relation to this animal was actively misleading in relation to the name of the animal and veterinary input at the time at which it was compiled.  The Committee therefore imposed a fine of €500 in respect of the breach of Rule 148(iii).”

The Amended result of the Thanks To All The Frontline Workers Handicap (Division 2) now reads:


First:     Acessory

Second: Scream

Third:    Golden Days

Fourth:  Maid Of Eirinn

Fifth:     Soineanta


The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Licensing, Legal & Compliance. Mr. Murphy was represented by Denis Linehan of Denis A. Linehan and Company Solicitors, Charleville, County Cork.

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