ERA Media Release - Mr Doug Watson

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Monday 26th April 2021, into the medical records and treatment of DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) and 43 other horses in the care of licensed ERA Trainer Mr. D Watson between 1st February 2020 and 20th March 2020.

Evidence was taken from Mr. D Watson (Trainer), Dr. Simon Abbott (Dubai Equine Hospital Veterinarian and stable Veterinarian) and Dr. Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian) with the following matters established:
1. On Monday 20th March 2020, Mr. D Watson was requested by the ERA Stewards to provide all medical records relating to horses trained by himself, for the previous 2019/20 racing season.
2. On Monday 22nd June 2020, ERA Stewards requested further information from Mr. D Watson as the previously supplied records appeared to be incomplete, with no treatments listed for a week period. The ERA Stewards further requested the treatment records supplied by the Dubai Equine Hospital during the month of March 2020.
3. On review of the medical records, Stewards identified an intra-articular (joint) injection of Triamcinolone had been documented as given to DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) on Sunday 1st March 2020, by the stable Veterinarian.
4. According to the provided documentation, the intra-articular injection occurred three (3) clear days before the Al Ain race-meeting where DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) competed in Race 2 the “Shadwell Farm Handicap” over 1000 metres on Thursday 5th March 2020. DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) finished 7th.
5. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that in accordance with ERA Rule 95AAA 9(ii) no person shall administer any medication by way of intra-articular (joint) injection to any horse entered for a race or trial within eight (8) clear days of the commencement of the race or trial. Dr. K Finn advised that it is common practice with international racing jurisdictions to enforce a restriction to horses that have received intra-articular (joint) injections and it is designed to protect the welfare of the horse, preventing the horse running on damaged joints, cloaked by the benefits of medication. Dr. K Finn added that the substance documented, Triamcinolone, is a safe intra-articular therapeutic agent used to treat synovitis in horses. It is commonly used to treat painful joints in horses. If Triamcinolone is found in any sample taken on race-day, it would be considered a prohibited substance, and as such would constitute a breach of the ERA Rules of Racing.
6. DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) was not subjected to sampling before or after the race at Al Ain Racecourse on Thursday 5th March 2020.
7. Mr. D Watson explained that the records from the Dubai Equine Hospital are incorrect and that the intra-articular (joint) injection was given to another horse in his stable called TRENCHARD (USA). He highlighted that the initial medical records given to the ERA Stewards when requested on Monday 20th March 2020, documented that TENCHARD (USA) was the only horse to have received an intra-articular (joint) injection on Sunday 1st March 2020. Further Mr. D Watson provided additional documentation referred to as “individual horse files” for both TRENCHARD (USA) and DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) that states significant matters, such as form, current racing equipment and major veterinary treatments. The documentation for TRENCHARD (IRE) stated that the gelding had treatment to its hocks, stifles and front fetlock on Sunday 1st March 2020. The documentation for DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) has no treatment recorded on Sunday 1st March 2020, with the last time the gelding receiving an intra-articular (joint) injection being on Saturday 7th December 2019.
8. On review of the Dubai Equine Hospital records for February and March 2020, it was identified that several products were billed on the day of the races for 43 different horses. The products were;
• Energy 1000 A&B, oral paste;
• Bioactive Booster, oral paste;
• Pro-Bio Equine, oral paste;
• Lasi Resp, oral paste;
• Yunnan Baiyao, Powder; and
• Super Calm, oral paste.
9. Dr. K Finn advised that none of the products contained prohibited substances, however under the ERA Rules would not be permitted to be administered on race-day.
10. Mr. D Watson advised that he is fully aware of the ERA Rules regarding no medication being permitted on race-day. The reason the Dubai Equine Hospital’s records indicated that the products were given on race-day was because Dr. S Abbott uses the stable’s “shipping list” to determine which horses received the appropriate products. The “shipping list” is a document produced by the stable which states what horses that are being transported to a race-meeting on a specific date. He advised that the pastes/treatments were administered the day prior to racing and depending on the product/treatment it would be 2 to 3 days prior to racing.
11. Dr. S Abbott advised that he would use the shipping list to advise the Dubai Equine Hospital on which client to charge for each product. Further, he explained that he advised the Dubai Equine Hospital to bill each client, based on the date of the shipping list, which was the race date.
12. Mr. D Watson acknowledged that the stable did not record the use of the products in their medication logbooks, as he believed that as they don’t contain prohibited substances, he was not required to.
13. The Stewards requested to view the documents that were sent to the Dubai Equine Hospital from Dr. S Abbott, indicating the dates that the products should be billed.

The inquiry was adjourned, before recommencing on Wednesday 28th April, 2021. The following matters were established;
14. Stewards received the requested information on Tuesday 27th April, 2021, which identified the oral products/treatments given to the horses in question during the period of 1st February and 20th March, 2020.
15. The documentation did state the date of each respective race that the horses competed in.

On review of the evidence, the Stewards were satisfied that DANGEROUS THOUGHT (USA) did not receive an intra-articular (joint) injection and placed importance on the medical record keeping of Mr. D Watson, which stated TRENCHARD (IRE) was the only horse to receive such a treatment on the 1st March 2020. Further, Stewards accepted the explanation tendered by Mr. D Watson regarding no medication being administered on race-day to the 43 horses during the period of 1st February and 20th March, 2020. It was accepted that the date appearing on the Dubai Equine Hospital reports were the dates used for billing purposes by Dr. S Abbott, based off the stable’s shipping list from race-day.

Mr. D Watson pled guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 31B(iv), in that he failed to maintain medical records of all medication, tonics and treatments to horses in his care, by failing to record the oral products/treatments given to 43 of his horses during the period of 1st February and 20th March , 2020. Mr. D Watson was fined AED 5,000 and advised of his right of appeal.

Relevant Rules:
ERA Rule 31B
(i) All Trainers must keep records of all administrations of Medications, tonics and treatments to Horse in their care.
(iv) Trainers who fail to maintain medical records or cannot produce the aforementioned records are guilty of an Offence.

ERA Rule 95AAA 9(ii) – Notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 95AAA1. no Person shall administer, attempt or cause to be administered or use any Medication by way of intra-articular (joint) injections to any Horse entered for a Race or Trial within eight (8) Clear Days of the commencement of the Race or Trial.

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

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