ERA Media Release - Mr Ahmad bin Harmash

The ERA Stewards opened inquiries on Thursday 22nd April 2021, into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit (EFU) regarding prohibited substances detected in the following samples;
• Inquiry 1 – SA’ADA (USA) with the presence of Minoxidil being detected in the post-race urine sample after it raced in Race 6 “Dubai Real Estate Centre Handicap” over 1950 metres at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday 27th November 2020.
• Inquiry 2 – SHARP SPUN (GB) with the presence of Dexamethasone being detected in the post-race urine sample after it raced in Race 1 “Al Bastakiya Listed” over 1900 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday 6th March 2021.
• Further an inquiry was continued that was adjourned from Saturday 6th March 2021;
• Inquiry 3 – Confiscated syringe which was discovered in the race-day bag of Trainer Mr. Ahmed bin Harmash.

Evidence was taken from Mr. Ahmed bin Harmash (Trainer), Mr. Alessandro Marconi (Assistant Trainer), Dr. Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian) and Dr. Michael Subhahar (Chief Analyst – Dubai Equine Forensic Unit). The following matters were established during the inquiries;

Inquiry 1 – SA’ADA (USA)
1. On Tuesday 8th December 2020, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Minoxidil in respect to the post-race urine sample taken from SA’ADA (USA) at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday 27th November, 2020.
2. On Wednesday 9th December 2020, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. A bin Harmash of the sample irregularity with a stable visit at his registered training location “Al Aasfa (Racing) Stable”.
3. On Wednesday 9th December 2020, Mr. A bin Harmash advised that he wished to exercise his right to have the reserve portion of the sample analysed by another accredited racing laboratory in accordance with ERA Rule 95D(ii).
4. On Wednesday 9th December 2020, when being notified of the irregularity, Mr. A bin Harmash was unable to offer an explanation for the findings, however after being advised of the nature of the substance, a bottle of “New Hair Lotion” was obtained from the work rider of SA’ADA (USA) for further analysis.
5. Mr. A bin Harmash advised the Stewards that he wanted to take elective samples from SA’ADA (USA) as well as CARRINGTON (FR) and MUDALLEL (IRE), which had been declared to race over the upcoming weekend, as they were the three horses the work rider would ride every morning.
6. The Dubai Equine Forensic Unit advised that the elective samples taken from CARRINGTON (FR) returned with the presence of Minoxidil, however Minoxidil was not found in the samples taken from SA’ADA (USA) and MUDALLEL (IRE). Mr. A bin Harmash advised that he wanted to withdraw MUDALLEL (IRE) from Jebel Ali on Friday 11th December 2020, and CARRINGTON (FR) from Abu Dhabi on Sunday 13th December 2020, as he could not be sure they would be presented to race without the prohibited substance Minoxidil being present. Stewards acceded to his request and withdrew his respective runners.
7. On Wednesday 16th December 2020, the ERA Stewards were advised by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit that the bottle of “New Hair Lotion” obtained from Al Aasfa (Racing) Stable had returned with the presence of Minoxidil.
8. On Wednesday 30th December 2020, the ERA Stewards received confirmation from Racing Analytical Services Ltd that the presence of Minoxidil was detected in the reserve sample of SA’ADA (USA).
9. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that Minoxidil is a human product used to treat hypertension and baldness. It is not a therapeutic agent in horses and has no known reason to be used. In a horse it would act upon the cardiovascular system, have the potential to decrease exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), altering the horses performance and therefore is considered a prohibited substance under the ERA Rules of Racing. The ERA do not have a recommended withdrawal time for Minoxidil as it shouldn’t be used in or on horses.

Trainer Mr. A bin Harmash pled guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented and raced SA’ADA (USA) at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday 27th November 2020, in Race 6 “Dubai Real Estate Centre Handicap” over 1950 metres, when a post-race urine sample taken from that mare, upon analysis, was found to have had administered to it Minoxidil, a prohibited substance under the ERA Rules.

In determining an appropriate penalty, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence; with particular regard that the likely cause of the positive sample was the hair lotion being used by the work rider;
• The seriousness of the offence, involving the presentation of a prohibited substance in a race-day sample;
• SA’ADA (USA) won Race 6 at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday 27th November 2020.
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr. A bin Harmash’s guilty plea, forthright evidence and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. A bin Harmash was fined AED 25,000.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), SA’ADA (USA) was disqualified from first place in Race 6 “Dubai Real Estate Centre Handicap” over 1950 metres at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday 27th November 2020 and the placings adjusted to:

Finish Place Horse Name Trainer Jockey
1st ROUGHER (USA) Doug Watson Patrick Dobbs
2nd FRASHERBURGH (IRE) Salem bin Ghadayer Royston Ffrench
3rd DRESS COAT (GB) Musabbeh Al Mheiri Antonio Fresu
4th CRANESBILL (USA) Erwan Charpy Clement Lecoeuvre
5th OBEYAAN (USA) Mujeeb Rahman Ryan Curatolo

Inquiry 2 – SHARP SPUN (GB)
10. On Sunday 14th March 2021, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Dexamethasone and Ranitidine in respect to the post-race urine sample taken from SHARP SPUN (GB) at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday 6th March, 2021.
11. On Thursday 18th March 2021, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. A bin Harmash of the sample irregularity with a stable visit at his registered training location “Al Aasfa (Racing) Stable”.
12. Mr. A bin Harmash advised that SHARP SPUN (GB) had received Dexamethasone on Friday 26th February 2021, intravenously which was seven (7) clear days before the gelding’s race, as SHARP SPUN (GB) was suffering from sore shins. The ERA recommends a five (5) clear day withdrawal for the use of Dexamethasone. Further, Mr. A bin Harmash advised that the stable had been applying a cream referred to as “Special Sweat” to SHARP SPUN’s (GB) legs in the days leading up to the race. It was noted that Dexamethasone and DMSO were ingredients contained within “Special Sweat”. Stewards obtained a bottle of “Special Sweat” for further analysis. Mr. A bin Harmash added that Ranitidine may have been administered to SHARP SPUN (GB) on the day of the races by the stable grooms.
13. On Thursday 18th March 2021, Mr. A bin Harmash advised the Stewards that he did not want the reserve sample taken from SHARP SPUN (GB) to be analysed by another accredited racing laboratory.
14. On Thursday 25th March 2021, the ERA Stewards were advised by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit that the bottle of “Special Sweat” obtained from Al Aasfa (Racing) Stable had returned with the presence of Dexamethasone, as indicated on the ingredients of the product.
15. Mr. M Subhahar tendered evidence that Ranitidine is not considered to be a prohibited substance, however he included the substance in the certificate of analysis of the sample taken from SHARP SPUN (GB), as the concentration level detected was extremely high.
16. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that Ranitidine is a histamine blocker and works in the stomach by decreasing acid production to aid with stomach ulcers. The ERA have no recommended withholding period on Ranitidine, however advise it can’t be used on the day of the races as it would be considered to be a breach of ERA Rule 95AAA 9(i).
17. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that Dexamethasone is a commonly used equine product used for allergic reactions to prevent inflammation. It acts upon the endocrine and immune system and is considered to be a therapeutic substance. Dexamethasone is considered to be a prohibited substance when found in a race-day sample.

Trainer Mr. A bin Harmash pled guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 1(b), in that he caused Dexamethasone to be administered to SHARP SPUN (GB) prior to the gelding racing at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday 6th March 2021, in Race 1 “Al Bastakiya Listed” over 1900 metres, which upon analysis of a post-race urine sample detected a Dexamethasone.

In determining an appropriate penalty, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence;
• The seriousness of the offence, involving the administration of a prohibited substance in a race-day sample, via a cream in the days leading up to the race;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr. A bin Harmash’s guilty plea, forthright evidence and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. A bin Harmash was fined AED 40,000.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), SHARP SPUN (GB) was disqualified from eleventh (11th) position in Race 1 “Al Bastakiya Listed” over 1900 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday 6th March 2021, and the placings adjusted accordingly.

Inquiry 3 – Confiscated Syringe
18. On Saturday 6th March 2021 at Meydan Racecourse, the ERA Stewards conducted random inspections of race-day bags.
19. Steward Mr. T Wilson, discovered an unmarked dosing syringe containing 100ml of a brown liquid in the race-day bag of Mr. A bin Harmash.
20. On Saturday 6th March 2021, Stewards opened an inquiry and Mr. A bin Harmash advised that the dosing syringe was taken to the races to be given to NEW TRAILS (USA) in case the gelding sweated up whilst travelling to the races. It was intended to be used as a recovery treatment, whether before or after racing. Stewards notified Mr. A bin Harmash that pursuant to ERA Rule 95AAA 12, medication means any treatment with drugs, prohibited substances or other substances. When questioned, Mr. A bin Harmash assured the Stewards that NEW TRAILS (USA) had not been given any medication prior to racing in accordance with ERA Rule 95AAA 9(i). Based on this assurance, Stewards permitted NEW TRAILS (USA) to compete in Race 6 “Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 – Group 1” over 2000 metres. Stewards ordered post-race urine samples to be obtained from all Mr. A bin Harmash’s horses competing at Meydan on the 6th March 2021. Accordingly, post-race urine samples were obtained from SHARP SPUN (GB) and NEW TRAILS (USA).
21. On Sunday 14th March 2021, ERA Stewards were advised by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit that the dosing syringe contained the prohibited substance Omeprazole. Further the sample obtained from NEW TRAILS (USA) was found to have no irregularities. The sample obtained from SHARP SPUN (GB), refer to “Inquiry 2 – SHARP SPUN (GB)”(above).
22. On Thursday 18th March 2021, at Al Aasfa (Racing) Stable, Mr. A bin Harmash presented the products used in making the brown liquid from the confiscated dosing syringe, that being “Hitargo” and “Omeprazole tablets”. The description for “Hitargo” states it is an energy supplement for horses in competition and hard training.
23. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that “Hitargo” is designed to be given before competition (4-7 hours) or after training and contains large starch molecules which are absorbed quickly in the hope to improve stamina and working muscles. Although “Hitargo” does not contain any prohibited substances it should not be used on the day of the races as it would be considered to be a breach of ERA Rule 95AAA 9(i).
24. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that Omeprazole is used to treat gastric ulcers and that the ERA would consider it to be a prohibited substance when found in a race-day sample. The ERA recommend a withdrawal period of two (2) clear days for any horse administered Omeprazole.
25. Mr. A bin Harmash advised that NEW TRAILS (USA) is a horse that has suffered from stomach ulcers in the past and can get very agitated pre-race.

Mr. A bin Harmash pled guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 96(viii) in that at Meydan Racecourse for the race-meeting on Saturday 6th March 2021, he had in his possession a dosing syringe containing Omeprazole a prohibited substance.

In determining an appropriate penalty, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence, with particular regard that the substance was not administered and contained Omeprazole.
• The seriousness of the offence, involving the possession of a dosing syringe with a prohibited substance;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr. A bin Harmash’s guilty plea, forthright evidence and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. A bin Harmash was fined AED 20,000.

Mr. A bin Harmash’s s record in relation to prohibited substances:
No prior breaches.

Relevant Rules:
ERA 86(ii) – Where any declared runner has been the subject of an examination under the Rules 8(vi) and or (vii) and has been found to have received a Prohibited Substances, the Horse shall be disqualified from the Race and from other Races as the ERA determines.

ERA Rule 95AAA 1 – Any Person shall be liable to Penalty if:
(b) They administer or cause to be administered any Prohibited Substance which is detected in any Sample taken pursuant to Rule 8(vii) from any Horse prior to or following any Race, or Test

ERA Rule 95AAA 2 – Any Trainer or other Person in charge of a Horse, which is presented to Race or performed a Test, or has Raced or performed a Test which is found (upon analysis) to have had administered to it a Prohibited Substance, shall be liable to a Penalty.

ERA Rule 95AAA 9(i) – Notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 95AAA1. no Person shall administer or cause to be administered any Medication to a Horse on Race day prior to such Horse running in Race.

ERA Rule 95AAA 12 – For the purpose of this Rule, Medication means any treatment with drugs, Prohibited Substances or other substances.

ERA Rules 95D(ii) – Upon the detection by an Accredited Racing Laboratory of a Prohibited Substance in the Sample from a Horse, such laboratory shall notify its finding to the Stewards, who shall then notify the Trainer of the Horse of such finding and give him the option to have the reserve portion of the Sample Tested at another ERA-approved Accredited Racing Laboratory. The Trainer will have 3 days to notify the Stewards of such requirement. A refusal by the Trainer to Test the reserve portion of the Sample shall not prevent the Stewards from having the reserve portion of the Sample Tested.

ERA Rule 96(viii) – Has in his possession on a Race Course where a meeting is being conducted any Prohibited Substance, syringe, needle or other instrument which could be used to administer a Prohibited Substance to a Horse unless that Person shall have obtained the permission of the Stewards to be in possession of such, or satisfies them that such possession is for his Personal lawful use.

Stewards Panel:
• Mr. Sam Shinsky (Chairman), Mr. Taylor Wilson and Mr. Ajay Anne.