ERA Media Release - Mr Mohammed Al Shamsi

The ERA Stewards opened inquiries on Sunday 23rd May 2021, into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit (EFU) regarding prohibited substances detected in the following samples;
• Inquiry 1 – ZF HAKEEMAH (OM) with the presence of Cobalt being detected in the pre-race urine sample before it raced in Race 3 “Remah Maiden” over 1800 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 23rd January 2021.
• Inquiry 2 – FAKHR AL WATAN (AE) with the presence of Heptaminol being detected in the pre-race urine sample before it raced in Race 1 “Khalifa City UAE Bred Maiden” over 1200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 14th February 2021.
• Inquiry 3 – NOOR JALAN (OM) with the presence of Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) exceeding the prescribed threshold being detected in the pre-race blood sample before it raced in Race 5 “Arabian Triple Crown (Round 3) – Group 3” ” over 2400 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 4th April 2021.
• Inquiry 4 – Medical records and treatments of MAJD DU LOUP (FR) and AF MOBASHER (AE).

Evidence was taken from Mr. Mohammed Al Shamsi (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 – ZF HAKEEMAH (OM)
1. On Monday 1st February 2021, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Cobalt in respect to the pre-race urine sample taken from ZF HAKEEMAH (OM) at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 23rd January 2021.
2. On Tuesday 2nd February 2021, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. M Al Shamsi of the sample irregularity via a telephone call, as they had visited his stable the week prior due to a similar issue. Mr. M Al Shamsi was unable to offer an explanation for the elevated level of Cobalt returned in ZF HAKEEMAH (OM).
3. On Sunday 7th February 2021, Mr. M Al Shamsi 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 24th February 2021, the ERA Stewards received confirmation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club that the presence of Cobalt above the urine threshold was detected in the reserve sample of ZF HAKEEMAH (OM).
5. Mr. M Al Shamsi tendered evidence that he had changed the feed for ZF HAKEEMAH (OM) during this period, however was unable to explain the elevated level of cobalt.
6. Dr. K Finn advised that cobalt is a trace mineral naturally found in the earth’s crust and therefore found in many feeds, hence an international threshold has been set on the substance when analysed in race-day samples. It also makes up part of Vitamin B12. Cobalt can induce hypoxia like responses which can cause gene modulation at the hypoxia inducible factor pathway to induce erythropoietin transcription, the production of new red blood cells with the hope that extra red blood cells will carry more oxygen to working muscles and allow the horse to perform better. When a concentration of Cobalt is found above the international threshold level in a race-day sample it is considered to be a positive sample.

Trainer Mr. M Al Shamsi pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented ZF HAKEEMAH (OM) to race in Race 3 “Remah Maiden” over 1800 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 23rd January 2021, which was subsequently found, upon analysis of a pre-race urine sample, to have had Cobalt administered to it, as evidenced by a concentration of Cobalt in excess of 100 micrograms per litre in urine.

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 presentation of Cobalt above the threshold level;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Previous penalties imposed for offences under ERA Rule 95AAA 2 in relation to cobalt;
• Mr. M Al Shamsi’s guilty plea and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. M Al Shamsi was disqualified for a period of 12 months, to commence midnight Sunday 23rd May, 2021 and to expire midnight Monday 23rd May, 2022.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), ZF HAKEEMAH (OM) was disqualified from 8th place in Race 3 “Remah Maiden” over 1800 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 23rd January 2021 and the placings adjusted.

Inquiry 2 – FAKHR AL WATAN (AE)
7. On Monday 22nd February 2021, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Heptaminol in respect to the pre-race urine sample taken from FAKHR AL WATAN (AE) at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 14th February, 2021.
8. On Thursday 25th February 2021, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. M Al Shamsi of the sample irregularity with a telephone call, as they had visited his stable earlier in the month.
9. On Friday 26th February 2021, Mr. M Al Shamsi 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).
10. On Thursday 25th March 2021, the ERA Stewards received confirmation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club that the presence of Heptaminol was detected in the reserve sample of FAKHR AL WATAN (AE).
11. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that Heptaminol is a drug is commonly used to treat “exertional rhabdomyolysis” (tying up) in horses. The drug acts on muscles, it helps increase blood flow and supports contraction as a muscle stimulant. It has cardiac and vascular affects, makes the heart contract harder and dilates blood vessels. This drug is usually administered intravenously. The ERA have a five (5) clear day withholding on any products that contain Heptaminol. Further, if Heptaminol is found in a race-day sample it would be considered to be a prohibited substance and a breach of the ERA Rules of Racing.

Trainer Mr. M Al Shamsi pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented FAKHR AL WATAN (AE) to race in Race 1 “Khalifa City UAE Bred Maiden” over 1200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 14th February 2021, which was subsequently found, upon analysis of a pre-race urine sample, to have had Heptaminol administered to it, a prohibited substance under the ERA Rules of Racing.

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 presentation of Heptaminol;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr. M Al Shamsi’s guilty plea and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. M Al Shamsi was fined AED 40,000.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), FAKHR AL WATAN (AE) was disqualified from tenth (10th) position in Race 1 “Khalifa City UAE Bred Maiden” over 1200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 14th February 2021, and the placings adjusted accordingly.

Inquiry 3 – NOOR JALAN (OM)
12. On Monday 5th April 2021, ERA Stewards were advised of a positive sample report to total carbon dioxide (TCO2) in respect to the pre-race blood sample taken from NOOR JALAN (OM) when it competed at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 4th April 2021.
13. Acting under the provisions of ERA Rule 95D(v), which on the occasion of a blood sample breaching the prescribed TCO2 threshold level allows the same laboratory to analyse the reserve portion of the original sample, Stewards approved the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit to immediately commence the analyse of the reserve sample.
14. On Monday 12th April 2021, the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit notified the ERA Stewards that the reserve blood samples identified a TCO2 concentration in excess of the permitted threshold. Therefore, under the ERA Rules the confirmed analysis was deemed to be conclusive evidence that a prohibited substance had been administered to NOOR JALAN (OM).
15. On Thursday 15th April 2021, ERA Stewards informed Mr. M Al Shamsi of the positive sample notification with a stable visit at his registered training location “Victory Stables”. Mr. M Al Shamsi was unable to offer an explanation for the elevated level of TCO2 returned in NOOR JALAN (OM). Stewards obtained a blood sample from NOOR JALAN (OM) at the stables to be analysed for TCO2.
16. On Thursday 15th April 2021, ERA Stewards lodged the out-of-competition blood sample taken from NOOR JALAN (OM) for analysis. The level of TCO2 returned was 26.9 millimoles per litre in plasma.
17. Mr. M Al Shamsi advised that he was well aware of how to prevent a positive samples to total carbon dioxide (TCO2) and on the day of the races he was at his stable to watch NOOR JALAN (OM) be loaded on the horsebox, prior to being transported to the races. Further, he was unable to explain how NOOR JALAN (OM) returned an elevated level of total carbon dioxide (TCO2).
18. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that total carbon dioxide (TCO2), is an endogenous substance due to it being found naturally in the horse, hence an international threshold has been set on the substance when analysed in race-day samples. It is referred to as a buffering agent which can alter blood pH (Potential of hydrogen) and therefore combat acidosis produced by working muscles. Lactic acid production during exercise is a limiting factor for performance, therefore having a large supply of an alkalising agent, which raises blood pH offers an advantage to the racing horse. When a concentration level of TCO2 is found above the international threshold level in a race-day sample it is considered to be a positive sample.

Trainer Mr. M Al Shamsi pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented NOOR JALAN (OM) to race in race 5 the “Arabian Triple Crown (Round 3) – Group 3” at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 4th April 2021, which upon analysis of a pre-race blood sample was found to have had administered to it a prohibited substance (alkalising agents), as evidenced by a concentration of TCO2 in excess of 36.0mml/L in plasma.

In determining the appropriate penalty in this case, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence;
• The seriousness of the offence, involving the presentation of total carbon dioxide above the threshold level, which is considered potentially performance enhancing;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Previous penalties imposed for offences under ERA Rule 95AAA 2 in relation to total carbon dioxide;
• The ERA Penalty Guidelines for TCO2 Offences
• Mr. M Al Shamsi’s guilty plea and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Mr. M Al Shamsi was fined the sum of AED 50,000.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), NOOR JALAN (OM) was disqualified from 7th place in Race 5 “Arabian Triple Crown (Round 3) – Group 3” ” over 2400 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 4th April 2021.

Inquiry 4 – Medical records and treatments of MAJD DU LOUP (FR) and AF MOBASHER (AE)
19. On review of Mr. Al Shamsi’s medical records, Stewards identified (2) intra-articular (joint) injections of Ostenil that had been given to MAJD DU LOUP (FR) on Thursday 4th February 2021 and AF MOBASHER (AE) on Saturday 13th February 2021, by his stable veterinarian.
20. MAJD DU LOUP (FR) competed in the “Mazrat Al Ruwayah - Group 2” over 1600 metres, at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 11th February 2021, where the horse placed eleventh (11th), a period of six (6) clear days subsequent to the intra-articular injection.
21. AF MOBASHER (AE) competed in the “Al Basrah- UAE Bred Maiden” over 1600 metres, at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 20th February 2021, where the horse placed tenth (10th), a period of six (6) clear days subsequent to the intra-articular injection.
22. Mr. M Al Shamsi advised that he was not aware of the ERA Rule which stipulated that no person shall administer any medication via intra-articular injection within eight (8) clear days or racing, rather he was under the impression that the rule was four (4) clear days.
23. Dr Finn advised that the pertinent ERA Rule relating to the number of clear days between intra-articular injections and racing is common throughout international racing jurisdictions, is designed to protect the welfare of the horse and prevent the horse running on damaged joints cloaked by the benefits of prohibited substances.
24. Dr Finn advised that the substance involved, “Ostenil”, contains sodium hyaluronic acid, it is used commonly in horses to treat osteoarthritis, usually injected intra-articularly in combination with a steroid, but some clinicians use it solely. It is a high molecular weight substance which enhances joint fluid viscosity and promotes cartilage health. Further, if sodium hyaluronic acid was found in any sample taken on race-day it would be considered a prohibited substance, and as such would be a breach of further ERA Rules of Racing.
25. Dr Finn advised that both MAJD DU LOUP (FR) and AF MOBASHER (AE) were not subjected to post-race sampling following their respective races.

Mr. M Al Shamsi pled guilty to the following charges under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 9(ii);
• Charge 1 – As the registered Trainer of MAJD DU LOUP (FR) he caused that horse to be administered a medication, namely “Ostenil”, by way of intra-articular injection on Thursday 4th February 2021, six (6) clear days prior to it racing at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 11th February 2021, which is contrary to the requirements of ERA Rule 95AAA 9(ii), and
• Charge 2 – As the registered Trainer of AF MOBASHER (AE) he caused that horse to be administered a medication, namely “Ostenil”, by way of intra-articular injection on Saturday 13th February 2021, six (6) clear days prior to it racing at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 20th February 2021, which is contrary to the requirements of ERA Rule 95AAA 9(ii).

In determining the appropriate penalty in this case, the Stewards took into account the following factors:
• The circumstances of the offence;
• Nature of the breach, that being an intra-articular injection within the designated period prior to racing;
• That the breach occurred six (6) clear days prior to the race;
• The substance involved, that being Ostenil;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr. M Al Shamsi’s forthright evidence and guilty plea.

Mr. M Al Shamsi was fined the sum of AED 10,000 on each charge (total AED 20,000).

Pursuant to ERA Rule 95AAA 11, MAJD DU LOUP (FR) was disqualified from eleventh (11th) place from Race 1 the “Mazrat Al Ruwayah - Group 2” over 1600 metres, at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 11th February 2021, and AF MOBASHER (AE) was disqualified from tenth (10th) place from Race 2 the “Al Basrah- UAE Bred Maiden” over 1600 metres, at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 20th February 2021. All placings in the respective two races were adjusted accordingly.

At the conclusion of all four inquiries, Mr. M Al Shamsi was advised of his right of appeal.

Mr. M Al Shamsi’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 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(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) injection 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 11 – When it is established subsequent to a Horse competing in a Race, Test or Official Trial that the Horse had Raced in that Race or participated in that Test or trial and had received Medication, it may be disqualified from the Race or trial, or may be deemed to have failed that 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.

ERA Rule 95D(v) – Notwithstanding anyting contained in (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv) of this Rule 95D the Stewards may where Samples are to be analysed for the plasma total carbon dioxide concentration (TCO2) of a Horse send two Samples for immediate analysis to an Accredited Racing Laboratory in the UAE approved by the ERA in which case the two step procedure envisaged n (ii) above shall not apply.

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