TRAINER Ado McGuinness feels he has been unfairly portrayed by both the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and some media reports following a Referrals Committee hearing involving one of his horses.
McGuinness was fined €750 this week by the Referrals Committee for “failing to comply with a reasonable request or instructions” by not presenting his horse Laugh A Minute for a post-race test following the Rockingham Handicap at the Curragh on June 26th.
Samples were taken from all 18 runners in the Rockingham, including Laugh A Minute, before the race. While taking blood from the McGuinness runner, the IHRB’s senior veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer noticed puncture marks and traces of blood on the horse’s coat, suggesting the horse had been given an intravenous injection recently.
The trainer met stewards’ secretary Peter Matthews before the race and explained that Laugh A Minute was a highly strung horse and had been given an infusion of electrolytes by the trainer’s veterinary surgeon the previous evening.
Matthews and Dr Hillyer informer McGuinness that a “full regulatory sample” would be taken from the horse post-race and the trainer acknowledged this requirement.
At this point there appears to have been a “complete breakdown in communication” between all parties, says the trainer. McGuinness says he was not in the stableyard during the day and assumed the IHRB officials would initiate the post-race test procedure by approaching his staff after the race.
However, the IHRB’s veterinary team expected McGuinness or his staff to present the horse for testing. Half an hour after the race the IHRB veterinary team informed Dr Hillyer that Laugh A Minute “had not been presented for sampling”.
A subsequent review of the stableyard CCTV shows the trainer’s three runners in the race leaving the stableyard 13 minutes earlier, though McGuinness says his horsebox tachograph will confirm that the vehicle did not leave the racecourse grounds until an hour after the race.
Speaking to The Irish Field this week, McGuinness said: “The way the incident has been reported by the IHRB suggests to the public that I was trying to hide something. That was not the case at all. They failed to publish the fact that they took five blood tests from Laugh A Minute before the race, and all of them returned negative for prohibited substances.
“Dr Hillyer just wanted to take a urine sample post-race. I had no problem with that and thought they would go ahead and inform my staff. I had three runners in the race, there was a thunderstorm during racing, and I wasn’t in the stableyard at all during the day. It was just a complete breakdown in communication and I apologised for that.”