HRI proposes extending drug-testing system to studs

Caravaggio bids to restore reputation in Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on Sunday

The system of both announced and unannounced drug inspections of racing yards by Turf Club officials could be be extended to stud farms.

A document drawn up by Horse Racing Ireland's chief executive Brian Kavanagh which recommends the measure is being examined by all interested parties including the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

The setting up of a protocol to allow drug testing on stud farms was a key recommendation in an Anti-Doping Task Force report released at the start of 2016.

The industry-backed task force was set up on the back of several controversies involving the use of anabolic steroids in 2014. One of its key recommendation was that racing’s regulatory body be allowed drug test horses out of competition. The Turf Club is currently only allowed test on premises it licenses.


Prolonged negotiations between the Turf Club and the ITBA on the setting up of a protocol to allow such testing reached an impasse over issues such as notice, whether or not inspections should be random or intelligence-led, and the use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

However intervention by HRI in recent weeks has led to a document which Kavanagh is confident can be signed up to by all parties.

“I’ve met with the breeders and the Turf Club and circulated a document earlier this week. I’m awaiting responses from them and various other industry bodies as well.

“It’s a broad outline of a strategy for drug testing and follows the recommendations and detail of the task force report. I’ve said the system should be the same used for horses in training, a combination of announced and unannounced inspections,” he said on Friday.

The issue of any notice that might be given to breeders ahead of drug testing had been particularly contentious. Kavanagh believes however it is a “non-issue”.

Non issue

“It has been a non-issue all the way through. If you get a VAT inspection or a Revenue inspection you don’t ask (a) how you are selected or (b) if you get a call or people arrive at your door.

“My view is I don’t believe there was any real disagreement on that [issue of notice] I think things may have got lost in translation,” Kavanagh said.

"Announced and unannounced inspections are currently what happens with horses in training and in relation to inspections by the Workplace Relations Commission, " he added.

All parties are expected to respond to the HRI proposal before the end of this month.

In other news Caravaggio is odds-on to repair his tarnished reputation in Sunday’s Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. The Scat Daddy colt lost his unbeaten record when fourth in last month’s July Cup.

He is one of 13 declared for the €380,000 feature run over six and a half furlongs, along with his stable companion Intelligence Cross. The race is due off at 2.45 Irish-time.

Caravaggio’s opposition includes last year’s winner Signs Of Blessing and Brando who finished a place ahead of him at Newmarket.

Aidan O’Brien has won the race once before with King Charlemagne in 2001 and struck at the top-level in Deauville last Sunday when Roly Poly won the Prix Rothschild.

The champion trainer then made it 13 Group One victories so far in 2017 when Winter landed Thursday’s Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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