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Hugo Palmer (Trainer) “Home Of The Brave” Referral Prohibited Substance – Curragh, 19th July 2015


The Referrals Committee, Mr Justice Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Sean Barry and Laurence McFerran met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 4th January 2016, to consider a report from Laboratoire des Courses Hippiques in Paris, stating that the biological fluid sample taken from “Home Of The Brave”, trained by Hugo Palmer following the horse’s win in the Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh Racecourse on 19th July 2015, was found to contain 5-Hydroxydantrolene, which under Rule 20(v) and Regulation R14 is a prohibited substance. The trainer also requested that the “B” Sample be tested. The analysis of the “B” sample was carried out at LGC in Fordham, Newmarket on 15th September 2015 and the analysis confirmed the finding of 5-Hydroxydantrolene.

Evidence was heard from Dr Thomas Barragry, pharmacologist, and from Hugo Palmer.

In his evidence Dr Thomas Barragry said that 5-Hydroxydantrolene is a highly effective drug which is a muscle relaxant. He said that the drug was originally used in humans but can be used in horses under the cascade. He noted that there is little scientific work done on the drug in horses. He referred to a study which had been carried out, but the study was based on a shorter administration period than was the case here so therefore it was possible that the detection time calculated in that study may not be applicable in this case.

In his evidence Hugo Palmer gave details of the drug administration to the horse. He said the administration ceased on 13th July 2015 which was six clear days before the Curragh race. He said he thought the substance would have left the horse’s system based on a published detection time of 96 hours. He gave details of how the substance was administered and the steps he has now put in place to ensure that there will be no reoccurrence.

Having considered the evidence the Committee found that this was a case where Hugo Palmer had followed all the regulations. He had recorded the administration of the substance correctly in the Medicines Register. The Committee were impressed with the precautions he had taken during the administration and in the lead up to the race to minimise the risk of a positive finding and the changes he has put in place after he became aware of the test result so as to ensure there would be no reoccurrence. They noted that he was operating in an area where scientific guidance is not definitive.

Having taking into account the manner in which he met the case and the fact that he had taken all reasonable precautions to avoid a breach of the rule, the Committee, while finding that he was in breach of Rule 96(a), imposed no penalty other than the disqualification of the horse. They were also of the opinion that Hugo Palmer runs a high quality and proper operation.

As a result of disqualifying “Home Of The Brave” from first place, the Committee ordered that the result be amended to read as follows:

First: Gordon Lord Byron
Second: Sovereign Debt
Third: Dark Emerald
Fourth: Ramone

The case was presented to the Committee by Conal Boyce, Solicitor, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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