ERA Media Release - Mr Mohammed Al Shamsi & Mr Sultan Al Hajri

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Monday 5th April 2021, into the pre-race handling of VISUAL EFFECT (GB) before it competed and ran in Race 3 “Longines Conquest V.H.P Ladies Maiden” over 1600 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 12th March, 2020. Evidence was taken from Mr. Mohammed Al Shamsi (Trainer of VISUAL EFFECT (GB)), Mr. Sultan Al Hajri (Assistant Trainer for Mr. M Al Shamsi) and Dr. Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian). Translation was provided throughout the inquiry by Mr. Issam Hamad (Technical Administrative Officer, ERA Arabic Department).

The following matters were established during the inquiry;
1. On Thursday 12th March 2020, Mr. M Al Shamsi presented VISUAL EFFECT (GB) to Meydan Racecourse at 5:33pm.
2. An ERA Officer and ERA Veterinarian identified and obtained a pre-race blood sample from VISUAL EFFECT (GB) at 6:46pm.
3. VISUAL EFFECT (GB) competed in Race 3 “Longine Conquest V.H.P Ladies Maiden” finishing in 16th place.
4. VISUAL EFFECT (GB) was not selected for a random post-race urine or blood sample.
5. Video footage was shown during the inquiry, establishing;
(a) At approximately 6.59pm Mr. S Al Hajri orally administered a clear liquid substance via a syringe.
(b) At approximately 7.01pm Mr. S Al Hajri orally administered a dark liquid substance via a syringe, which was 39 minutes prior to its race.
6. Mr. S Al Hajri tendered evidence that the clear liquid substance administered via a syringe was water from a bottle and that he had sought prior permission from an ERA Veterinary Officer. Mr. S Al Hajri advised that VISUAL EFFECT (GB) is a nervous horse and that water had to be administered via a syringe as the gelding is reluctant to receive water freely. He added that the dark liquid administered was sesame oil and was being used to assist with stomach ulcers and cuts on the gelding’s mouth. He did not seek permission prior to administering the sesame oil, as there were no ERA Officials present and he did not believe there was any Rule against administering such a substance.
7. Stewards were concerned that prior to administering the dark liquid, the stable groom exited the stable box and closed the door, leaving Mr. S Al Hajri sheltered and enclosed to administer the substance alone. After administering the substance, Mr. S Al Hajri concealed the syringe and dark liquid in a towel before the stable groom re-entered and continued to prepare VISUAL EFFECT (GB) to race.
8. Mr. M Al Shamsi tendered evidence that it was a routine procedure for his horses to receive water after the fitting of a bridle. He added that he is fully aware of the Rules relating to race-day treatments and did not instruct nor was aware that Mr. S Al Hajri had administered a dark liquid substance via a syringe.
9. Mr. S Al Hajri acknowledged that he did not advise Mr. M Al Shamsi that he had administered sesame oil to VISUAL EFFECT (GB) and this was the only time he had ever administered sesame oil to a horse at the races.
10. Dr. K Finn tendered evidence that no horse shall receive any medication on race day prior to such a horse running in a race. Even if VISUAL EFFECT (GB) had been administered sesame oil via a syringe, this would constitute a breach of the ERA Rules.
11. Stewards were concerned that although Mr. S Al Hajri advised that the dark liquid was sesame oil, this could not be verified in any way and therefore would rather refer to the dark liquid as an “unknown substance”.
Additionally, despite repeated opportunities prior to viewing of the video evidence, Mr. S Al Hajri failed to mention administering anything other than water to VISUAL EFFECT (GB).

Mr. M Al Shamsi pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 31(ii), in that he failed to fulfil his requirements as a Trainer in accordance with ERA Rule 31(i)(b), that being the conduct of his Assistant Trainer Mr. S Al Hajri, who administered an unknown substance to VISUAL EFFECT (GB), prior to the gelding racing at Meydan Racecourse in Race 3 “Longines Conquest V.H.P Ladies Maiden”, on Thursday 12th March, 2020.

In determining an appropriate penalty, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence;
• The seriousness of the offence, involving a horse under his care being administration with an unknown substance prior to a race;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr. M Al Shamsi’s guilty plea and that he was unaware that the horse had been treated prior to racing.

Mr. M Al Shamsi was subsequently fined the sum of AED 20,000 and advised of his rights of appeal.

Mr. S Al Hajri pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 9(i), in that he administered an unknown substance to VISUAL EFFECT (GB), prior to the gelding racing at Meydan Racecourse in Race 3 “Longines Conquest V.H.P Ladies Maiden”, on Thursday 12th March, 2020.

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 an unknown substance;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr. S Al Hajri’s guilty plea.

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. S Al Hajri was disqualified for a period of 2 years, to commence midnight Monday 5th April, 2021 and to expire midnight Wednesday 5th April 2023. Mr. S Al Hajri was advised of his rights of appeal.

Pursuant to ERA Rule 95AAA 11, VISUALL EFFECT (GB) was disqualified from 16th position at Meydan Racecourse in Race 3 “Longines Conquest V.H.P Ladies Maiden”, on Thursday 12th March, 2020.

Relevant Rules:
ERA Rule 31(i) – Each Trainer shall:
(b) be responsible for all matters pertaining to the running of his stable including stable routine, feeding, security inside the stable and the conduct of his stable staff.

ERA Rule 31(ii) – Failure by a Trainer to fulfill Rule 31(i) to the satisfaction of the ERA shall constitute an Offence under these Rules.

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 a Race.

ERA Rule 95AAA 11 – Where 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 that Race or trial, or may be deemed to have failed that Test.
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 Ajay Anne.