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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

IHRB doesn't know if change of lab is cause of spike in positive tests

Michael Hickey of Sunnyhill Stud and an IHRB acting steward, who asked at the anti-doping seminar if the spike in positive tests was due to the change in labs
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Denis Egan told Wednesday's anti-doping seminar that he does not know if the current spike in positives for banned substances is related to the regulator's change of testing laboratory.

The surge in numbers for banned substances – 21 so far in 2018 compared to five in each of the previous three years – has coincided with the regulator's termination of its long-standing association with BHP Laboratories Ltd in Limerick in February at a cost of around €500,000. Irish samples are now sent to the LGC lab in Newmarket.

At Wednesday's seminar, which trainers and vets in attendance felt was more informative and better communicated than the first instalment at City North Hotel earlier in the month, Michael Hickey of Sunnyhill Stud, an IHRB acting steward, asked if the change of lab was the cause of the higher ratio.

Egan answered: "The simple answer is we don't know. Hundreds of Irish horses have run abroad every year and a lot of them are tested, and they don't come back positive. And similarly, for the last two or three years, we've been sending ten to 15 per cent of our samples to France and there was nothing coming back from there out of the ordinary. We just don't know."

Dr Lynn Hillyer suggested at the seminar that retrospective testing could be brought in when the IHRB's new laboratory is appointed next month.

Michael Grassick, chief executive of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, asked about an update on discussions relating to the spate of passport irregularities, which has markedly increased the number of non-runners and is costing trainers a lot of money in fines.

The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association chief executive Michael Grassick
Egan indicated that new guidelines were nearly ready to be published and that they "won't be as rigid as they are at present".

He added that the absence from the point-to-point regulations of the specific rule pertaining to horses not being given anything other than food and water on the day of a race will be addressed.

Egan also confirmed that the IHRB's long-standing consultant pharmacologist Tom Barragry stepped down a month ago.

John 'Shark' Hanlon, meanwhile, has not appealed his sanctions for the Camlann cobalt case.

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Hundreds of Irish horses have run abroad every year and a lot of them are tested, and they don't come back positive
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