Result of an enquiry (John Ryan) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 13 October

13 Oct 2016 Disciplinary Panel - Integrity Issues

1. The Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry on 13 October 2016 into the analysis of the urine ordered to be taken from PLUCKY DIP, trained by John Ryan, by the Stewards at Kempton after the gelding was placed fourth in the Betfred Lotto Handicap Stakes on 2 April 2016. The sample tested positive for a prohibited substance, in breach of Rule (G)2.1 of the Rules of Racing.  The Panel also considered whether or not to take action under Rule (A)74.2 Ground 3 in respect of the possible disqualification of the gelding.

2. Prior to the enquiry, both parties had agreed that they had no objection to the Panel members sitting.

3. The BHA’s case was presented by Andrew Howell and John Ryan was also in attendance.

4. The urine sample taken from PLUCKY DIP was found to contain Meptazinol, a mixed opioid agonist and antagonist, which is a prohibited substance. Meptazinol is used to manage moderate to severe pain and trades under the name Meptid®.  There are no licensed preparations of Meptazinol for use in animals but numerous preparations containing Meptazinol are available in the UK for use in humans.  The BHA did not know of any circumstances where the substance is used under the cascade, for horses.  The trainer did not exercise his right to have the ‘B’ sample analysed.

5. Mr Howell stated that following the positive analysis, on 28 April, 2016, BHA Investigating Officers attended Mr Ryan’s yard. Mr Ryan was not present and was only available on the telephone approximately one hour after arriving at the yard.  Mr Ryan had been shocked by the positive sample and confirmed that he had never heard of Meptazinol or Meptid®.  After leaving the yard, the BHA Investigating Officers received a call from Mr Ryan who had informed them that he had spoken to his lad, Mr Robert Hull, who rides, travels with and cares for PLUCKY DIP on a day to day basis.  Mr Hull had informed Mr Ryan that he had recently been prescribed some strong painkillers for a back problem and would provide Mr Ryan with the packaging the following day.  Mr Ryan also confirmed that he had spoken with his Veterinary Surgeon, Mr Michael Shepherd at Rossdales who had reportedly informed Mr Ryan that he was not familiar with the substance and did not believe that his practice used it, nor had he used it to treat any of Mr Ryan’s horses.

6. Mr Hull was then interviewed by a BHA Investigating Officer and recounted that in or around September 2015, his back had flared up and caused pain due to a ruptured disc. In February 2016 he had been prescribed Meptid® tablets (200mg) 3 or 4 times a day.  Mr Hull would take a double dose of Meptid® usually at home, however, he would take it at the races when he was travelling with a horse.  He would not always wash his hands afterwards.  He also had admitted that one of the first things he would do on arrival at the races with a horse would be to urinate whilst stood with the horse.  He could not recall specifically whether he did this at Kempton on 2 April 2016, but given the long journey he “could well have done”.  Mr Hull also stated that he would have given the horses that he dealt with Polos throughout the day.  He was not aware of having his medication in his pocket causing him to accidently mix up the medication with the Polos, however he could not definitively discount this.  He denied ever giving the gelding Meptid®, but could see how cross contamination could have occurred.  The BHA accepted that there was no suggestion that Mr Ryan had been involved in any dishonesty or cheating.  Mr Howell also submitted that where the source could not be identified, the trainer, as the responsible person had strict liability.

7. On 20 July 2016, Mr Hull telephoned to confirm that he had still been taking the medication at the time of the race at Kempton on 2 April 2016.

8. Amanda Piggot, BHA Veterinary Adviser, had considered the likelihood of cross contamination on the basis of the evidence that had been compiled and specifically the evidence that had been provided by Mr Hull. She had confirmed that it was a possibility, but not a likelihood, that the cause of the Adverse Analytical Finding was as a result of Mr Hull’s admission that he could have urinated in the gelding’s stables whilst either at home or at the racecourse.  She stated that there was currently no reported data following administration or exposure of a horse to Meptazinol that could be referred to in order to evidence an opinion as to the likelihood of the possibility.

9. Mr Ryan stated that he was unaware at the time that Mr Hull was taking Meptid®. However, he confirmed that he had taken steps to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.

10. After considering the evidence, the Panel was unable to establish the source of the substance, and could not therefore be satisfied that the administration of the substance was accidental and that the trainer had taken all reasonable care.

11. The Panel found Mr Ryan in breach of Rule (G)2.1 and imposed a fine of £1,000.

12. Under Rule (A)74.2 Ground 3, the Panel disqualified PLUCKY DIP from the race, placing HARRY HURRICANE fourth, HOOFALONG fifth and LUCKY BEGGAR (IRE) sixth.  The Panel directed that any prize money paid out in relation to the above race be returned.

Notes to Editors

1. The Panel for the hearing was: Lucinda Cavendish (Chair), Celina Carter and Peter Reynolds.