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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Egan rejects 'kangaroo court' claim in Warendorf case as procedures are defended

IHRB chief executive Denis Egan has defended the regulator's integrity procedures
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The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's chief executive Denis Egan has rejected a claim made by the connections of Warendorf at an anti-doping seminar on Wednesday that the referral hearing on the horse's cobalt case was a "kangaroo court".

Declan Gill, a Limerick vet formerly employed on a part-time basis by the IHRB as a veterinary officer at point-to-points, is the husband of Jo Gill, Warendorf's registered owner at the time of his point-to-point win at Belclare in March that came under investigation.

A day after the referral committee chaired by High Court judge Justice Tony Hunt disqualified Warendorf from his wide-margin Belclare win and fined his trainer Pat Kelly €1,000 but absolved him of blame in relation to the administration of the substance, Gill used the anti-doping seminar as a platform to vent his frustration at the hearing process and the sampling procedures.

Because the seven-day window was still open for Kelly to lodge an appeal, Egan refused to engage on the specific case with Gill during what was a heated exchange.

Warendorf, pictured winning his point-to-point at Belclare in March

When he pointed out to Gill that the case was heard a day earlier and that was the appropriate forum at which to raise his concerns, Gill responded: "Heard yesterday – in a kangaroo court."

Egan took issue with that remark and Gill responded: "It's probably disparaging to kangaroos, to be straight up with you." Gill then left the room without further explanation of his comments.

"I absolutely refute it," Egan said of Gill's assertion. Asked why an owner who had been through a referral process would feel the need to vent so angrily in public, Egan responded: "I can't answer that. I don't know. It was an inappropriate forum to raise the issues but he obviously did what he did."

Gill is of the opinion that the standard lithium heparin test tubes used by the IHRB contain the trace mineral cobalt in the bung of the tube and in the anticoagulant lining that is there to stop the blood clotting, and therefore pose a threat of contamination.

He also believes the pre-analytic procedures, in particular at point-to-points where only blood samples are taken, are flawed.

However, Warendorf is the only point-to-point runner to have had a test for elevated levels of cobalt dealt with by the IHRB and it is understood that neither of the two pending cobalt-related cases are from that field.

When that observation was made to Gill on Thursday, he said of the Warendorf case: "That's because of an extra occurrence that we know happened and reported to the IHRB, and it was investigated. It was a random event that happened and is peculiar to this case, but we can't talk about it at this point."

After Gill left the seminar on Wednesday, the IHRB's head of anti-doping Dr Lynn Hillyer was asked by James Griffin, assistant trainer to his father Pat, if Gill's concerns were valid.

"No, basically," she said. "We use internationally accredited sampling kits, which have been tested within an inch of their life – obviously. Or else why would we use them? You can have complete confidence in the kits we use – there is no issue with them. At all."

Gill formally informed the regulator of his resignation from his point-to-point duties on Tuesday. He says he did so on "a matter of principle" as he has concerns about the IHRB's integrity.

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It's probably disparaging to kangaroos, to be straight up with you
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