Horse Trainer Receives Six-Month Suspension After Third Horse Fails Drug Test

Horse trainer Tony Martin has received a six-month suspension after a third horse he has trained failed a drug test. [Image:]

Repeat offender Horse trainer Tony Martin has been hit with a six-month suspension of his license after his horse Firstman tested positive for lidocaine. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic used to prevent pain and is not allowed on race day.

Martin, whose penalty was suspended for two years, also received a fine of €11,000 ($12,040). The penalties were imposed following a breach of anti-doping rules during a race on January 18. The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) referrals panel, which completed the investigation on November 27, informed Martin that should another anti-doping violation take place within two years, he would be suspended.

third time in four years

This is the third time in four years that a horse trained by Martin has tested positive for a banned substance. In 2019, Moonmeister was disqualified from a Curragh after testing positive for a corticosteroid. In 2022, Patsy’s Honour was disqualified from a Down Royal bumper after testing positive for triamcinolone acetonide.

Results came back negative During the investigation, Martin suggested that the lidocaine could have been ingested through the bedding at the racetrack, an idea that was rejected by the panel. An unannounced visit from the IHRB on February 1 didn’t find any of the substance at Martin’s yard.

Firstman had been prescribed the anti-arthritic drug Cartrophen by two veterinary surgeons

Martin also told investigators that Firstman had been prescribed the anti-arthritic drug Cartrophen by two veterinary surgeons, Edele Gray and Donncha Houlihan, on the day before the race. However, this was found not to be the cause of the lidocaine in the post-race sample.

Hair and blood samples were taken from the nine horses, including Firstman, and all returned negative. According to IHRB’s head of anti-doping Dr Lynn Hillyer, the administration of lidocaine would have had to be taken within hours of the sample being taken on race day.

Drug still there a month later In arriving at its decision, the referral panel took into account Martin’s early admission and full cooperation. They also indicated that removing the horse trainer’s license “is likely to have severe implications for his stable yard and may put it in jeopardy.”

Following Patsy’s Honour’s disqualification in 2022, Martin received a fine of €1,750 ($1,915). Despite having a withdrawal time of 34 days, the drug still turned up in Patsy’s Honour’s sample.

Hillyer said there were several reasons why the drug was present in the horse a month following treatment. One reason was that the drug was not administered into the joint, but into some denser tissue.