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Karl Thornton (Trainer) “Wakea (USA)” Referral Prohibited Substance – Down Royal, 27th May 2016


The Referrals Committee N.B. Wachman (in the Chair), C.P. Magnier and Peter N. Reynolds met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co Kildare on Wednesday, 29th June 2016 to consider a report from BHP Laboratories in Limerick, stating that the biological fluid sample taken from Wakea (USA), trained by Karl Thornton, following the horse’s win in the Data Select Maiden Hurdle at Down Royal on 27th May 2016 was found to contain Dexamethasone which under Rule 20(v) and Regulation R14 is a prohibited substance. The finding of Dexamethasone was confirmed when the B sample was analysed at LCH in Paris on 23rd June 2016.

Evidence was heard from Karl Thornton, Dr Thomas Barragry, pharmacologist and from Donnacha Houlihan (Karl Thornton’s veterinary surgeon). The Committee also considered a report from Andrew Tyrrell MRCVS, Turf Club veterinary officer who inspected Mr Thornton’s premises.

In his evidence Dr Thomas Barragry said that Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory drug that does not occur naturally. It is a corticosteroid and is a synthetic drug modeled on cortisone. It helps reduce inflammation and abolishes pain. It can be used for joint injury, respiratory problems or musculoskeletal issues. The normal withdrawal time for the drug is one week.

Dr Barragry noted that the levels found were high and the administration of the drug was recorded in the Medicines Register 29 days before the race. However he opined that the drug should have been out of the horse’s system by the race day.

In his evidence Karl Thornton said he bought the horse in Newmarket in March. He outlined the horse’s preparation for the race and said he had no issues with the horse in the lead up to the race. He said that he did not keep any medication onsite and that he had no idea why the horse was found to be positive. He confirmed that the Medicines Register is kept up to date.

In his evidence Donnacha Houlihan MRCVS outlined the treatment of Wakea (USA) and said that all substances given to the horse were recorded in the Medicines Register. He confirmed that the last administration to Wakea (USA) was 29 days before the Down Royal race. He said he had no idea why the horse was positive and to have found Dexamethasone in the post race sample in view of the withdrawal time made no sense.

In his written report Andrew Tyrrell MRSVS said that a Medicines Register is maintained and it appeared meticulously kept. He noted that it is normally written up by the treating veterinary surgeon.

Having considered the evidence the Committee found Karl Thornton to be in breach of Rule 96(a) and ordered the disqualification of the horse. They imposed a fine of €1,000 for the rule breach. They also ordered that Wakea (USA) be sampled prior to it running again to ensure that the horse is now negative for any prohibited substance.

As result of disqualifying Wakea (USA) from first place, the Committee ordered the result be amended to read as follows:

First: Dove Mountain
Second: Crown Hill
Third: Clay Allison
Fourth: Right Turn Clive
Fifth: Goneoff

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Stipendiary Steward.

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