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Mervyn Torrens Referral Hearing

Mervyn Torrens – “Hughies Grey” Prohibited Substance
Navan 26th March 2011

The Referrals Committee, N.B. Wachman (in the Chair), Mrs. J.O. Onions and Martin P. O’Donnell met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 16th May 2011, to consider a report from BHP Laboratories in Limerick stating that the biological fluid sample taken from Hughies Grey, trained by Mervyn Torrens, following its win in the Webster Cup Steeplechase at Navan on 26th March 2011, was found to contain Frusemide which, under Rule 20(v) and Regulation R14, is a prohibited substance.  Mervyn Torrens had confirmed in advance that he was accepting the results of the ‘A’ sample and that he did not require the ‘B’ sample to be tested.

Evidence was heard from T.J.A. Smith, Turf Club Veterinary Officer, Mervyn Torrens and Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.

In his evidence, T.J.A. Smith explained that Frusemide is a diuretic which is prohibited under Rule 20 as it is a substance which acts on the urinary system and is also a masking agent.  He said it is primarily used to stop horses bleeding as it eliminates fluid from the body which in turn reduces blood pressure.  The increased volume of urine also results in more dilute urine and this can mask the presence of other drugs that might be present.

T.J.A. Smith also gave details to the Committee of an inspection visit to the yard of Mervyn Torrens after the prohibited substance was found.  Mr. Smith said that during the visit he noted that the Medicines Register was not kept in the correct format.  He said that there was a lack of detail and reference to medicines administered was incomplete.  In addition, there was no record of direct veterinary input and background advices.

Mervyn Torrens told the Committee that Frusemide had been administered to Hughies Grey on Tuesday, 22nd March.  He had been told by his veterinary surgeon to allow a withdrawal time of four days.  Therefore in his view it was in order to allow Hughies Grey to run at Navan on Saturday 26th March as the substance should have left the horse’s system.  He referred to a number of the horse’s previous runs where Frusemide was given to the horse in the days leading up to his race and said that any samples subsequently taken was negative.

In relation to the Medicines Register, he accepted that his records should have been maintained in a more detailed format.  He also accepted that the Turf Club had sent him a pro-forma register at license renewal time which he could have used to note the administrations but which he hadn’t used.

Denis Egan updated the Committee on the various detection times for therapeutic substances which had been published in recent years and explained the caveats which had been issued with the figures.  He said that a safety span of a number of days needed to be added to a detection time to arrive at the withdrawal time.  He also stressed the detection times and withdrawal times were not the same.

Having considered the evidence, the Committee found Mervyn Torrens in breach of Rule 96 in respect of the finding of Frusemide in the sample and fined him €1,500.  They also found that he was in breach of Rule 148 relating to the maintenance of his Medicines Register in the manner prescribed.  He was fined €200 for this breach of rule and also ordered to pay a contribution of €300 in respect of costs incurred by the Turf Club.

The Committee disqualified Hughies Grey from first place and ordered the records be amended to read as follows:

First:  See U Bob
Second: Whatuthink
Third:  Duers
Fourth:  I Hear A Symphony

The case was presented to the Committee by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  Mervyn Torrens was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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