ERA Media Release - Mr Doug Watson

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Tuesday 15th March 2022, into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit (EFU) regarding the presence of Omeprazole being detected in a blood clearance sample taken from KHUZAAM (USA) at Metropolitan Track on Monday 31st January 2022.

Evidence was taken from Mr. Doug Watson (Trainer of KHUZAAM (USA)), Dr. Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian) and Dr. Michael Subhahar (Chief Analyst – Dubai Equine Forensic Unit). The following matters were established during the inquiry;
1. On Thursday 23rd December 2021, KHUZAAM (USA) raced at Meydan Racecourse in Race 4, where a post-race veterinary examination revealed the gelding to have bled from both nostrils. Acting under the provisions of ERA Rule 21B(a)&(e), Trainer Mr. D Watson was notified that the gelding would not be permitted to exercise, train or race for a period of 21 days, and following must complete a satisfactory gallop in the presence of the ERA Stewards or Veterinary Officer.
2. On Monday 31st January 2022, Dr. K Finn passed KHUZAAM (USA) with an official test when completing a satisfactory gallop, at which time a blood sample was taken from the gelding for analysis.
3. On Tuesday 8th February 2022, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Omeprazole in respect to the blood clearance sample taken from KHUZAAM (USA)) at Metropolitan Track on Monday 31st January 2022.
4. On Monday 14th February 2022, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. D Watson via a visit to his “Red Stable” of the sample irregularity to KHUZAAM (USA). Mr. D Watson advised that KHUZAAM (USA) was routinely administered Omeprazole, it being administered to the gelding on the day of the official test. He further advised that he is aware that Omeprazole is a prohibited substance under the ERA Rules of Racing as many horses within his stable are treated with the product and are required to stop being treated before being presented to race. On this occasion, he mistakenly did not think that the ERA would be concerned regarding Omeprazole in a clearance sample for a horse that was being reinstated for a bleeding embargo.
5. On Monday 14th February 2022, Mr. D Watson 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).
6. On Friday 4th March 2022, the ERA Stewards received confirmation from the Hong Kong Laboratory that the presence of Omeprazole was detected in the reserve blood sample of KHUZAAM (USA).
7. Dr. K Finn advised Omeprazole is a therapeutic medicine given to treat gastric ulcers in horses. Specifically, it is classified as a proton pump inhibitor and its purpose is to block stomach acid production. The ERA have a two clear day withholding period on Omeprazole. Horses in training commonly develop gastric ulcers and Omeprazole is highly effective in treating ulcers located in the squamous portion of the quine stomach. Omeprazole is generally given orally.

Trainer Mr. D Watson pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 1(b), in that he administered Omeprazole, a prohibited substance under the ERA Rules of Racing to KHUZAAM (USA) prior to an official test on Monday 31st March 2022, with the blood sample taken from KHUZAAM (USA), detecting the substance.

In determining an appropriate penalty, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• Mr. Watson’s guilty plea.
• The forthright manner and cooperation of Mr. Watson throughout the inquiry and early admittance of fault.
• Mr. Watson’s Disciplinary Record in relation to breaches of prohibited substances.
• The circumstances of this case and that the treatment had been recorded in the Medication Logbook for KHUZAAM (USA).

Mr. Watson was fined the sum of AED 15,000 and advised of his rights of appeal.

Further, the ERA Stewards directed that KHUZAAM (USA) was required to perform a satisfactory gallop in the presence of the ERA Veterinary Officer prior to racing again, which was conducted on Sunday 21st February 2022.

Mr. D Watson’s record in relation to prohibited substances:
• 10 January 2004, positive sample to Methylprednisolone and fined AED 5000.
• 25 March 2006, positive sample to Methylprednisolone and fined AED 25,000.
• 18 January 2007, positive sample to Naproxen and fined AED 20,000.
• 19 February 2015, positive sample to Orphenadrine and fined AED 40,000.
• 28 February 2015, positive sample to Morphine and not issued with a penalty due to contamination.
• 28 February 2016, positive sample to Furosemide in an official test for a clearance sample and fined AED 25,000.

Relevant Rules:
ERA Rule 21B – A Horse which has in the opinion of the Stewards suffered an attack of bleeding shall not without the permission of the Stewards be cantered or galloped on any Race Course:
(a) For a period as determined by the Stewards but that is not less than 21 Clear Days from the first occasion of an attack of bleeding.
(e) No Horse which has, in the opinion of the Stewards suffered an attack of bleeding may be entered to Race again until it has completed a satisfactory gallop, free of Prohibited Substances, in the presence of the Stewards or the Veterinary Officer.

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 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.

Stewards Panel:
• Mr. Sam Shinsky (Chairman), Mr. Taylor Wilson, Mr. Dhahi Al Jallaf and Mr. Rashid Alblooshi (Trainee Steward).