Druim Samhraidh the only one out of nine Dunne horses to test positive for steroid

Referrals panel accepted evidence that horse was exposed to Boldenone prior to entering trainer’s yard

Druim Samhraidh, the horse banned from racing for 14 months last week, was the only one of nine horses to test positive for the anabolic steroid, Boldenone, during an unannounced inspection at trainer David Dunne’s yard in August.

That inspection took place 18 days after Druim Samhraidh won at Ballinrobe on August 12th, following which he returned a positive test result for Boldenone.

On Friday last the horse was disqualified from that victory and suspended from racing for 14 months by a referrals committee panel chaired by Mr Justice Tony Hunt at the headquarters of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

At that hearing Dunne, who trains near Ratoath in Co. Meath, was fined €2,000. However the panel accepted scientific evidence that Druim Samhraidh was exposed to the anabolic steroid prior to entering Dunne’s yard.


On Monday an IHRB statement outlined how its head of anti-doping Dr Lynn Hillyer gave evidence of an inspection at that yard in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine.

It said Druim Samhraidh was present along with eight other horses. Blood and hair samples were taken from all of them. Boldenone Sulphatae was found in the blood, urine and hair samples taken from Druim Samhraidh. The tests on the other horses were all negative.

Dunne gave evidence at Friday’s hearing as did Professor Stuart Paine, associate professor of veterinary pharmacology at the University of Nottingham.

Paine stated the scientific analysis of the samples taken from Druim Samhraidh after his Ballinrobe win, and after the yard inspection, were consistent with the horse being exposed to the steroid “within 16 days of the race”.

He said analysis of the hair “indicated a longer time window of exposure of up to six months”.

In his evidence Dunne described how he came to train Druim Samhraidh in May “having met with Mr Martin McNally one day on the gallops who pre-trained the horse”.

Dunne could offer no explanation for how the horse was exposed to Boldenone “other than to suggest that he may have been first exposed to the substance prior to him getting the horse to train, as was suggested in the report from Professor Paine.”

Popular veteran

The judgement of the referrals panel also included Dunne being ordered to pay a contribution of €1,000 to the IHRB’s costs. They ruled that Druim Samhraidh can only return to competition next year after returning a negative sample.

Asked separately on Monday if further investigations on the matter may be undertaken by racing’s regulatory body, an IHRB spokesman said: “As always we will review all aspects of the case”.

In other news, the hugely popular veteran Un De Sceaux is on track for another crack at this Saturday’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

Willie Mullins’s charge is a former winner of the two-mile Grade One highlight in 2016 and last year chased home the outstanding Altior.

Another previous winner scheduled to line up on Saturday is the 2017 hero Politologue who will attempt to reverse Cheltenham form with Defi Du Seuil from last month.

Politologue will be 3lbs better with his younger rival this weekend and trainer Paul Nicholls is hopeful of turning the tables.

“A faster run race would have suited us last time but there were no excuses as it was our first run of the season. He was beaten by a very good horse but it will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday.

“We are hoping Un De Sceaux might come over and go a very good gallop. Politologue is all ready to go, though,” Nicholls reported.


Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column