Press releases 11th September 2017

Results of Enquiries (F. Doumen and S. Kirk) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 7 September 2017

Francois Doumen

1.    On the 7 September 2017 the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry into whether the trainer, Francois Doumen, was in breach of Rule (G)2.6 of the Rules of Racing when AIM TO PLEASE (FR), a horse trained by him, was in the racecourse stables at Ascot on the 20 June 2017, prior to its race on the 21 June 2017, at a time when a member of Mr Doumen’s staff was in possession of a prohibited substance in the racecourse stables.

2.    Mr Doumen has admitted the breach and asked that the matter be dealt with in his absence and the BHA raised no objection to that course being adopted.

3.    There was no objection from any of the parties to the participation of the members of the Panel in this case.

4.    The case for the BHA was presented by Lyn Williams.  Mr Doumen was not legally represented.

5.    Rule (G)2.6 states that no person shall possess any prohibited substance or prohibited method unless he can demonstrate acceptable justification for the possession.  Rule (G)2.6.1 states that possession shall mean possession on a racecourse of any prohibited substance or prohibited method prohibited on raceday only.  This was not a case of possession of a prohibited substance which is prohibited at all times.

6.    The facts of this matter are relatively straightforward.  At 12.55p.m. on the 20 June 2017, Mr Doumen’s horse arrived at the Ascot racecourse stables and his Head Lad went into the office to ascertain his allocated box number.  At that time Darren Stone, the BHA Equine Welfare Integrity Officer, handed to the Head Lad a French translation of a document giving guidance as to prohibited substances.  This document is also routinely sent to trainers from overseas prior to the running of any race in which they have an entry.

7.    At 1.20p.m. on the 20 June 2017, Mr Stone carried out a search of Mr Doumen’s kit box which was in the stable yard.  In the kit box Mr Stone found a plastic container labelled Vegeflex Horse.  The container was seized and the find was reported to Chris Hammond, a BHA Veterinary Officer.

8.    It was established that Vegeflex Horse is an anti-inflammatory supplement which can alleviate osteoarthritic pain.  David Sykes, the Director of Equine Health and Welfare at the BHA, states that Vegeflex Horse may have a pharmacological effect on mammalian body systems and is therefore a prohibited substance as defined in the Rules of Racing.

9.    As a result of the discovery of the container of Vegeflex Horse in the kit box of Mr Doumen the matter was referred to the Ascot Stewards and an enquiry was convened on the 21 June 2017.  The enquiry was conducted by Mr Rupert Sweeting (Chairman), Lady Celina Carter, Charlie Warde-Aldam and Paul Barton (Stipendiary Steward).  Others, including Francois Doumen, were present.  Mr Doumen co-operated fully with the enquiry and did not deny responsibility for the breach.  At the conclusion of the enquiry, the Stewards referred the matter to the BHA Head Office.

10.    Bearing in mind the burden and standard of proof which apply in this case, and, taking account of the whole of the evidence presented to the Panel it finds a breach of Rule (G)2.6.

11.    The Guide to Procedures and Penalties in relation to a breach of Rule (G)2.6 indicates an entry level fine of £1,000, with a range of £750 – £1,500.

12.    The BHA suggested that a fine of £750 was appropriate in this case.  The prohibited substance was found the day before the horse was due to run, Mr Doumen accepted responsibility at an early stage and he had a 30 year blemish free record of sending horses to race in the UK.  No integrity issues arise in this case.

13.    Accordingly, the Panel imposed a fine of £750.

Sylvester Kirk 

1.    On the 7 September 2017 the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry into whether the trainer, Sylvester Kirk, was in breach of Rule (G)2.6 of the Rules of Racing in that on 3 June 2017 when MISTER BLUE SKY (IRE), SALOUEN (IRE), GAWDAWPALIN (IRE) and SPINNERS BALL (IRE) ran at Epsom at a time when a member of Mr Kirk’s staff was in possession of a prohibited substance in the racecourse stables.

2.    Mr Kirk has admitted the breach and asked that the matter be dealt with in his absence and the BHA raised no objection to that course being adopted.

3.    There was no objection from any of the parties to the participation of the members of the Panel in this case.

4.    The case for the BHA was presented by Lyn Williams.  Mr Kirk was not legally represented.

5.    Rule (G)2.6 states that no person shall possess any prohibited substance or prohibited method unless he can demonstrate acceptable justification for the possession.  Rule (G)2.6.1 states that possession shall mean possession on a racecourse of any prohibited substance or prohibited method prohibited on raceday only.  This was not a case of possession of a prohibited substance which is prohibited at all times.

6.    This case arises in the following manner.  On 3rd June 2017 Mr Kirk had four runners at Epsom, his local racecourse.  The four horses made the short journey from Mr Kirk’s stables to the Epsom racecourse stables.  At 9.30a.m. on 3 June 2017 a routine search was conducted by Robin Gow and Derrick Morris (who were BHA officials on the day) of the kit bag belonging to Mr Kirk.  The kit bag was located in the front of the stables occupied by three of Mr Kirk’s horses.  During the search two sachets of Norodine Granules were found.  The Veterinary Officer was informed and the sachets were retained.

7.    Norodine Granules are an antibacterial for systemic use and contain trimethoprim and sulfadiazine.  Mr David Sykes, the BHA Director of Equine Health and Welfare states that the above substances may have a pharmacological effect on mammalian body systems and are therefore prohibited substances as defined in the Rules of Racing.

8.    As a result of the discovery of the Norodine Granules in the kit bag of Mr Kirk the matter was referred to the Epsom Stewards and an enquiry was convened during the morning.  The enquiry was conducted by Lucinda Cavendish (Chairman), Lord Rathcreedan, Alastair Scrimgeour and Paul Barton (Stipendiary Steward). Others, including Sylvester Kirk, were present.

9.    During the enquiry Mr Kirk admitted responsibility for the breach and indicated that the sachets had “gone in there inadvertently”.  He indicated that there had been a recent change of travelling Head Lad.  Mr Kirk also indicated that the prescription drug in question was used at his yard for horses that were coughing and that his medical records showed that to be the case and that the substance was last used on 7 April 2017.  Mr Kirk was adamant that none of the four horses which were due to run that day had been administered with the substance and all four horses were allowed to run.  A routine test on one of the four horses supported what Mr Kirk had said and the sample proved negative upon subsequent analysis.  When asked during the enquiry whether permission would have been granted to bring the Norodine Granules onto the racecourse had Mr Kirk sought permission, Ms Sally Taylor, the BHA Veterinary Officer replied “we would have allowed administration only post-race”.

10.    At the conclusion of the enquiry the Epsom Stewards referred the matter to the BHA Head Office.

11.    Mr Kirk has since put up signage at his yard which stresses to staff the importance of dealing properly with the raceday kit bag.  Whilst it might be said that such signage should have been in place prior to the event as being good and proper practice, nevertheless, the Panel believes that the putting up of the signage demonstrates that Mr Kirk takes this matter seriously and that he is anxious to avoid a repeat breach.

12.    Bearing in mind the burden and standard of proof which apply in this case, and, taking account of the whole of the evidence presented to the Panel it finds a breach of Rule (G)2.6.

13.    The Guide to Procedures and Penalties in relation to a breach of Rule (G)2.6 indicates an entry level fine of £1,000, with a range of £750 – £1,500.

14.    The BHA suggested that a fine equivalent to the entry level was appropriate in this case.  The Panel take the view that Mr Kirk was let down by a member of his staff on this occasion. Mr Kirk accepted responsibility immediately and has since attempted to tighten up the guidance he gives to his staff.  His assertion that none of his four runners had been administered the Norodine Granules on the day is supported by the negative sample taken from one of the horses and his medical record book shows the last use of Norodine Granules was on the 7 April 2017.  In addition Mr Kirk has no similar breaches on his record and no integrity issues arise in this case.

15.    Accordingly, in all the circumstances the Panel imposed a fine of £750.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Panel for the enquiries was: David Fish QC (Chairman), Chloe Fairley and Steve Winfield.

2. The Panel also held an enquiry into the circumstances concerning a failure of a rider to notify the Chief Medical Adviser that a notifiable medication was being taken pursuant to Rule (D) 64. The rider was found in breach and suspended for one month. By order of the Panel Chairman, the hearing was held in private and no further information will be published.

• This media release was originally published by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on 11 September 2017. To access the original, please click here.

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