THE Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is investigating 10 samples taken from thoroughbreds in the final six months of 2021 which produced adverse analytical findings.

These 10 cases represent less than 0.3% of the 3,503 samples taken during the period and matches exactly the number of adverse samples found in the first half of last year.

Two of the adverse findings came from point-to-point samples and one was from an inspection carried out at an unlicensed premises.

In its equine anti-doping report for the second half of last year, published this week, the IHRB revealed that almost 6,000 samples were taken and tested in all of 2021 and 28% of these were taken from equine premises other than the racecourse, at 141 locations across 18 counties.

Unlicensed premises

Since May of last year IHRB officers are authorised by the Department of Agriculture to inspect any premises where thoroughbreds are kept. By the end of 2021 the authorised officers had inspected 30 unlicensed premises, such as stud farms or pre-training yards.

Pre-race testing was also introduced last September. Between the introduction date and the end of the year the IHRB analysed 253 pre-race samples, none of which returned a positive finding.

All samples are being analysed by LGC, the laboratory in Cambridge which is considered a world-leader in equine anti-doping. The IHRB said: “We are in the fortunate position to be working with one of the best laboratories in the world, specialists in the analysis of biological doping threats, anabolic steroid chemistry, hair analysis and even gene-doping.

“In a typical year, LGC carry out analysis of over 50,000 equine and canine samples and have an ongoing commitment to share with the IHRB new methods of testing and research as well as investing in new technology.

Following criticisms of the IHRB’s drug-testing regime aired at an all-party Oireachtas Committee last summer, the IHRB has commissioned an independent audit of its anti-doping procedures by Dr Craig Suann, formerly the Chief Veterinary Officer of Racing New South Wales in Australia. Dr Suann is conducting the audit remotely.

The IHRB statement said: “Dr. Suann will audit the IHRB’s Equine Anti- Doping plans, policies and procedures as they relate to the IHRB’s Strategic Plan 2019-2023 and the report issued last year by the Joint Oireachtas Committee. He will assess what has been achieved and what is still to be done with recommendations on how to achieve these objectives as a priority. The IHRB’s Equine Anti-Doping strategy will be examined in the context of strategies and best practices employed by other racing regulators.”