Uncertainty lingers around timeline for details on drugs seized from Kildare

Equine therapist John Warwick admits he broke rules with possession of unlicensed medicines

It is unclear when the outcome of test results on drugs seized at a property in Co Kildare last week will emerge.

As part of an ongoing investigation, Department of Agriculture Food & Marine (DAFM) personnel and Gardaí removed prohibited medicines after raiding the premises near Monasterevin in which equine therapist John Warwick has operated for some time.

Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board officials were also present on Tuesday and took blood and hair samples from all thoroughbreds on the property. Normally such test results are available to the IHRB within a week to 10 days.

When details will emerge from the DAFM about the identity of those substances taken by them is less predictable. Some sources suggest it could be a matter of months before any details emerge in public.


Warwick has insisted there was "no dope" but admitted he broke the rules relating to possession of medicines that aren't licensed in Ireland.

The 74 year old Scot, who has been employed by many trainers on both sides of the Irish Sea in relation to horses with leg problems, insisted he has never broken the law and never would compromise an owner or trainer.

“There is nothing that would fail a dope test but I’ve certainly contravened the rules,” Warwick told the Racing Post about the medicines taken by DAFM.

Asked if any of the work he did on racehorses broke the law, he said: “Nothing whatsoever. They can test every animal I ever touched. I wouldn’t compromise an owner or trainer.”

However, he did not identify the substances that were taken.

Noel Meade, a former chairman of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, has urged that the identity of the seized drugs be revealed quickly as the spotlight on potential doping in Irish racing returns with a vengeance.

Last week's raid took place on the same day a joint Oireachtas Agriculture Committee reported that Irish racing's drug testing protocols are up to best international standards.

That committee held a number of hearings during the summer to examine high profile claims by trainer Jim Bolger that drugs are Irish racing's number one problem.

He predicted a Lance Armstrong figure would emerge in Irish racing and that he has no faith in the IHRB's drug-testing procedures.

Meade was heavily critical of Bolger’s stance on Sunday and said most trainers are very annoyed with their veteran colleague.

“He doesn’t appear to have anything. If he has, he hasn’t told anyone. So everybody as far as I can see, and any trainer I have met, is very annoyed with Jim over that,” Meade told Racing TV. “Jim came along and said he felt he wasn’t playing on a level playing field.”

Two trainers, Liam Burke and RTÉ pundit Ted Walsh, revealed over the weekend that they were caught up in Tuesday's raid having arrived at the property with horses to be treated.

Jessica Harrington has also confirmed that one of her horses was at the yard being treated by Warwick for a leg problem. She said she has been a long-time client of Warwick's and described the laser treatment he uses on horses limbs as very successful.

It has emerged too that the property from which Warwick has been operating is owned by TJ Comerford and his partner. Comerford, 47, is one of Aidan O’Brien’s travelling head lads and over decades has travelled the world with some of the champion trainer’s leading horses.

He told the Sunday Independent that he purchased the property two years ago and that Warwick had been working out of there from some time previously.

“I don’t know how long he has been coming here. I don’t deal with him. He pays for the use of the place,” Comerford was quoted. He added: “I don’t know if he’s done anything wrong. I personally have no say in what he does or doesn’t do. It’s not my business.”

An IHRB spokesman underlined on Sunday how the current investigation into equine doping is ongoing and is led by DAFM.

“The IHRB will continue to work with all the relevant authorities at all times. We repeatedly look for people if they have information of interest to contact us on the confidential hotline and share the intelligence they have. If we get intelligence we will act on it,” he said.

On the racing front, Sunday's Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown saw Willie Mullins resume normal service with a 10th win in the last 11 years in the first Grade 1 hurdle of the season.

Sharjah repeated his 2018 success to beat Zanahyir by three lengths with Echoes In Rain third of the three runners.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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