Horseracing regulatory body insists it acts on all doping claims

Under-fire IHRB to appear before Oireachtas agriculture committee this week

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has insisted all information it receives into claims of doping is acted upon.

Ahead of IHRB officials appearing in front of an Oireachtas agriculture committee hearing on Thursday, the under-fire regulator rejected reports on Sunday of having failed to act in relation to two anonymous letters sent to it that alleged use of prohibited substances.

A newspaper report outlined details of two letters alleging use of drugs by trainers, including anabolic steroids, that were sent to the regulator by stable staff.

The claims, one of which was from over a decade ago, were unattributed and no trainer was named. However, the report alleges nothing was done about those letters to the IHRB or the Turf Club as it was known up to 2018.


On Sunday an IHRB spokesman said: “All information provided to the IHRB is assessed and acted upon.”

On Thursday the Joint-Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine will hold the first of three sessions relating to comments by trainer Jim Bolger about doping in Irish racing and concerns about the integrity of the sport.


The IHRB and Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) will appear before it on Thursday.

The following Tuesday representatives of the Irish Racehorse Trainers’ Association(IRTA) will give evidence, followed by officials from the Department of Agriculture.

Bolger has declined to appear in front of the committee, citing legal advice he has received. Bolger has claimed that doping is the number one problem in Irish racing and outlined his lack of confidence in the IHRB.

The committee's chairman, Jackie Cahill, TD, has expressed disappointment at Bolger's decision. He had previously said the trainer's comments were doing serious reputational damage to the sport and needed to be "substantiated or put to bed".

Separately, St Mark's Basilica's superb Coral Eclipse victory on Saturday makes him the highest rated racehorse in the world right now.

On the back of the Classic colt's defeat of top older horses Addeybb and Mishriff at Sandown he has been handed a provisional rating of 127 by official handicappers on both sides of the Irish Sea.

"That has to be finalised and since there were only four runners in the race we could have done with more information. But 127 has Addeybb running to 120 which is what he ran to in Australia earlier this year and Mishriff to 119 which is 3lb lower than the level he showed in Dubai.

“Time will tell how accurate it is but 127 certainly makes him the highest rated horse in the world at the moment and that’s very exciting,” Ireland’s senior flat handicapper, Garry O’Gorman, said on Sunday.

The Eclipse was St Mark's Basilica's fourth successive Group One victory on the back of wins in the French Derby, French 2, 000 Guineas and last season's Dewhurst Stakes.

It was a sixth Eclipse for his trainer Aidan O'Brien who nominated next month's Juddmonte International at York as a likely next stop for Ballydoyle's latest top-flight colt.


“For all the horses we’ve had down the years I can’t remember we’ve had one like that. We’ve had horses who get into battle and brawl it out but he’s very happy to follow horses and quicken.

“He puts races to bed very quickly and that’s what he did again. He’s just a bit different,” O’Brien said.

The champion trainer has enjoyed a vintage season with his fillies but produced a second horse this term to win a Group One when Broome made all to land Sunday’s Grand Prix de Saint Cloud.

It was a first Irish-trained success in the historic French race and also a first Group One victory for O'Brien by Ireland's champion jockey Colin Keane.

Broome made all the running in the mile and a half contest to hold off Ebaiyra by a length with Gold Trip a nose back in third.

Joseph O’Brien’s Baron Samedi saw his seven-race winning streak come to an end and finished out of the places.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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