Joseph O’Brien, whose Pedisnap tested positive for enhanced levels of cobalt after her Gowran Park win in August


Joseph O’Brien and Mikey O’Connor have had winners disqualified after they were revealed to be the two trainers with horses that had tested positive for enhanced levels of cobalt.

O’Brien’s Pedisnap has been stripped of her August Flat win at Gowran Park, while O’Connor’s Awbeg Prince has been disqualified from his May Ballinrobe maiden hurdle win. 

It brings to 19 the number of Irish track and point-to-point winners disqualified this year after positive tests, with O’Connor’s case echoing that of Pat Kelly, who was effectively absolved of blame despite an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board referrals committee concluding his point-to-point winner Warnedorf had been exposed to cobalt on the day of the race.

The latest two cases had been pending for months and publication of the findings on Friday brought the number of disqualifications due to cobalt to four. 

The committee, comprising high court judges, Justices Tony Hunt and Raymond Groarke, as well as Philip Caffrey, accepted the finding of IHRB chief veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer that the source of Pedisnap’s enhanced reading was a ‘salt lick’ the horse had been exposed to on raceday. O’Brien’s €1,000 fine was waived. 

Mikey O’Connor, who the referrals committee accepted was not responsible for the administration to Awbeg Prince of a cobalt-containing B12 injection

Patrick McCann

No such innocuous source was identified for Awbeg Prince, and the panel accepted the IHRB’s assertion the horse was administered a cobalt-containing B12 injection on raceday.  

O’Connor told the panel either he and/or Kate O’Donovan, a sister of the horse’s owner, were with the horse at all times.

While not sufficiently satisfied O’Connor was personally responsible for the administration, the panel fined him €1,000 and awarded costs of €500 in favour of the IHRB.

Asked about the impression O’Connor was effectively absolved of responsibility, IHRB chief executive Denis Egan said: “Every case is dealt with on the facts in front of it and the committee accepted what Mr O’Connor said.”

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