Head of Equine and Welfare

Dr David Craig BVMS Cert AVP MRCVS
Phone +971 50 106 8481

Principal Roles

The principal roles of the Emirates Racing Authority Veterinary Department are:

  • Design and implement practical and transparent procedures and systems to assist the management and administration of racing the in the UAE.
  • Provide advice to the Board of the Emirates Racing Authority to assist the Board in fulfilling its role in the management and administration of racing in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Safeguard the health and welfare of horses involved in racing in the UAE.
  • Provide and supervise veterinary services and drug sample collections at all official race tracks in the UAE.
  • Provide advice and support to the industry on veterinary and equine welfare matters.
  • Provide expert advice to stewards and horseman at official judicial procedures.
  • To represent the ERA and the UAE on various groups and committees related to veterinary and racing matters.

Prohibited Substances

The Emirates Racing Authority (the “ERA”)

All race meetings in the UAE held under the sanction of the ERA, including the Dubai World Cup meeting, and its supporting races, are subject to the ERA’s Rules of Racing and Instructions in force from time to time (the “Rules”). The Rules are available from the ERA and may be downloaded from the ERA website at

All participants in races do so subject to, and take full responsibility for their compliance with, the Rules which contain, amongst other things, provisions relating to Prohibited Substances, the disqualification of horses that have been found to have received them and the punishment of those who administer them.

Prohibited substances

For further information regarding prohibited substances please refer to the ERA Rules available from the ERA and may be downloaded from the ERA website at Alternatively contact:

Dr. David Craig

Head of Equine and Welfare

Samuel Shinsky

Head of Integrity and Regulation

Notes on Prohibited Substances:

  • Horsemen should be aware of the unpredictable and prolonged excretion times of certain Prohibited Substances, such as long-acting anabolic steroids (e.g. Boldenone), long-acting corticosteroids (e.g. methylprednisolone) and procaine from the use of procaine penicillin. It is strongly recommended that trainers utilise the pre-race elective sampling program to determine the suitability to race of horses that have been administered any of these substances - see section 4 below.
  • Trainers and veterinarians should also be aware that the detection times of many medications can be prolonged and are unpredictable when medications are administered concomitantly (for example, phenylbutazone and flunixin) or given for an extended time. Detection times may also be prolonged by many factors including, but not limited to: dose rate, drug preparation, route of administration, training status and health status of the horse.
  • There is evidence that a number of drugs, (such as dipyrone and flunixin) that are excreted in the horse’s urine, can be recycled if the horse eats its bedding (particularly straw).
  • Herbal remedies and medicines, including those obtained over-the-counter, may contain Prohibited Substances. Trainers are strongly advised to avoid their use because the constituents of many of these preparations are unlisted or unknown. Examples of preparations that should be avoided include guarana, kava and valerian.
  • Erythropoietin (EPO) is a Prohibited Substance and it is the view of the ERA that there is no legitimate place for the use of EPO in racehorses that are in work and racing. Whilst EPO is unlikely to assist performance in racing animals human recombinant EPO preparations have been shown to cause adverse side effects in horses. Industry participants are warned that EPO is only available for clinical use in humans on special authority and that the supply and sale by unauthorised persons is illegal.
  • Trainers are reminded that it is an offence to bring onto a racecourse where a meeting is being conducted, any Prohibited Substance or any instrument that could be used to administer a Prohibited Substance to a horse. This includes, but is not limited to, rubbing alcohol, medicated shampoos, liniments, syringes, needles or oral dosing devices.

Threshold Levels

Apart from a small number of certain Prohibited Substances, which are naturally occurring, the UAE is a zero-tolerance jurisdiction; participants are however referred to ERA Rule 99AA which sets down threshold levels. 

Pre-race Elective Sample Testing

The ERA offers this service which allows trainers to determine the suitability for racing of horses which have been treated with therapeutic medications. Information related to the format, timeframe and cost of the procedure is available from Dr. David Craig, Head of Equine and Welfare.

Trainers should be aware that, advice from the ERA that a sample, for which a pre-race elective testing was requested, is clear of the substance(s), will not absolve trainers from their responsibility to present their horses to race free of any Prohibited Substance.


From the ERA Rules of Racing and Instruction, Intruction number 8 in the contains provision that no horse may run in a race unless it is certified by a veterinary surgeon to be correctly vaccinated against equine influenza in accordance with that Instruction.

Notes on Vaccinations

  • Both injectable and intranasal vaccines are acceptable for the above purposes.
  • Trainers should be aware that the UAE has special import rules in respect of Influenza vaccination, which are over and above ERA requirements. Therefore some horses which comply with the Rules in respect of Influenza vaccination may not meet the UAE import conditions and may require an additional vaccination in order to do so. Early consideration of the Rules and the import requirements should allow vaccinations to be timed so as to comply with both sets of requirements.

Veterinary Treatments

With reference to treatment or medication the ERA refer Trainers to the definition under the rules of a “Clear Day”, which means a 24 hour period from 12.01am to 12 midnight and which excludes both the day of treatment or Medication of a Horse and the day that it next Races.

This does not mean that all treatments are allowed outside the period of 24 hours prior to racing. Treatments which are considered to have profound and lasting affects on pain receptors will not be allowed within a much longer period prior to racing.

Prohibited treatments include the giving of all medicines, the administration of fluids in any manner, other than as a drink which the horse is able to take naturally, and the use of physical treatments which would normally be carried out by or under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon e.g. acupuncture in its various forms, ultra-sound therapy and laser therapies.

If you wish to treat your horse and are unsure whether or not the treatment in question will be permitted, please forward full details of the treatment (accompanied by manufacturer’s literature if possible) to Dr. David Craig, Head of Equine and Welfare, who will endeavour to assist but the ultimate responsibility for compliance with the Rules rests with you.

Medical Records

ERA Rule 31B of the Emirates Racing Authority Rules of Racing and Instructions states,

“All trainers must keep records of all administrations of medications or tonics to horses. These records should be retained for 2 years.  Trainers who fail to maintain or cannot produce the medical records are guilty of an offence”.

These records should contain the following information and should be readily available for inspection by Officials of the Authority if requested.

  • The name of the horse
  • The date of administration
  • The name of the Product administered
  • Route of Administration
  • The quantity of the Product administered
  • The name of the person administering the product

Vaccination Embargoes

Any horse which has had an embargo placed on it relation to incorrect or incomplete vaccinations may not be permitted to be entered to race unless the ERA registry office has received the updated / amended vaccination information by close of office on the day before entries.

Veterinary Withdrawals

Trainers are reminded that they are personally responsible to advise the Emirates Racing Authority of any withdrawals from any race. This should be done via the ERA Trainers portal, however in case of late withdrawals this should be done verbally to either the Stewards, the Emirates Racing Authority Veterinary Officer or the Registry Office Manager as soon as practicable following the decision to withdraw.

The Emirates Racing Authority will not withdraw a horse from its engagement upon receipt of a veterinary certificate without advice from the horse’s trainer.