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Shockwave Therapy – Vet Suspended

Horses treated on Dr van der Linde's advice

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Sunday 28 June after reviewing horse medical records from Millennium 2 Stables.

Evidence was taken from Mr. Ismail Mohammed (Registered ERA Trainer of Millennium 2 Stables), Mr. Claude Piccioni (Assistant Trainer), Dr. Fred Van Der Linde (DEH Veterinarian) and Dr. David Craig (ERA Veterinarian).

The following matters were established;

On Monday 30 March 2020, the ERA Stewards directed Mr. I Mohammed to provide the medical records for the 2019/20 season, for all horses in his care during the season.

On review of the medical records the following irregularities were detected;

  1. a) TRAVIS COUNTY (USA) was subjected to shockwave therapy to his left-fore suspensory ligament on Monday 21st October 2019, 3 clear days prior to racing in Race 6 “Al Reem Handicap” over 1600 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Friday 25th October 2019;
  2. b) FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) was subjected to shockwave therapy to his left-hind suspensory ligament on Saturday 18th January 2020, 4 clear days prior to racing in Race 6 “Jebel Ali Port Handicap” over 2000 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 23rd January 2020;
  3. c) FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) was subjected to shockwave therapy to his left-hind suspensory ligament on Wednesday 22nd January 2020, nil clear days prior to racing in Race 6 “Jebel Ali Port Handicap” over 2000 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 23rd January 2020;
  4. d) SULTANAA (GB) was subjected to shockwave therapy to both front suspensory ligaments on Wednesday 12th February 2020, 3 clear days prior to racing in Race 2 “Al Shahama Handicap” over 1400 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 16th February 2020;
  5. e) CELESTIAL SPHERES (IRE) was subjected to shockwave therapy to his back on Wednesday 26th February 2020, 2 clear days prior to racing in Race 7 “Riviera 2 Handicap” over 2435 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday 29th February 2020;
  6. f) SULTANAA (GB) was subjected to shockwave therapy to both front suspensory ligaments on Wednesday 4th March 2020, 3 clear days prior to racing in Race 6 “Medinat Zayed Maiden” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 8th March 2020;
  7. g) SULTANAA (GB) was subjected to shockwave therapy to both front suspensory ligaments on Saturday 7th March 2020, nil clear days prior to racing in Race 6 “Medinat Zayed Maiden” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 8th March 2020; and
  8. h) FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) was subjected to shockwave therapy to his left-fore cannon on Saturday 7th March 2020, 4 clear days prior to racing in Race 4 “The Longines Masters Collection Handicap” over 1600 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 12th March 2020.

Dr. Craig tendered evidence that shockwave therapy is thought to accelerate healing in soft-tissue musculoskeletal and bone injuries.

The use of shockwave therapy on a horse results in analgesia that can last between two to four days.

As such, there is a seven clear day withholding on racing horses that have been treated with shockwave therapy.  Shockwave therapy is a recognized treatment used in stables.

Mr. I Mohammed advised that due to having two stables, one being based in the UK, he was not always present in his stable. Further, he was unaware shockwave therapy was being conducted on horses in his care within the seven clear days, however acknowledged that as the Trainer he is the responsible person under the Rules.

Dr. F Van Der Linde advised that prior to using shockwave therapy on a horse, he would diagnose the specific problem then discuss his findings and intended treatment with the assistant trainer Mr. C Piccioni. Further, he advised that the medical records presented to the ERA Stewards for the horses receiving shockwave therapy was incorrect. The dates indicated on the treatment sheet were for billing purposes for the Dubai Equine Hospital and was not the actual date of treatment the shockwave therapy was applied to the horses.  He alleged that he could not advise on the actual date of treatment, as he does not document a treatment date.

Mr. I Mohammed, Mr. C Piccioni and Dr. F Van Der Linde all acknowledged they are aware of the shockwave therapy Rule as per the ERA Rules of Racing.

In the absence of any further records indicating other dates that shockwave therapy was applied, Stewards relied on the records provided as accurate dates of treatment.

Mr. I Mohammed pled guilty to eight (8) charges under ERA Rule 21E(5), those being:

(1) As the licensed Trainer of TRAVIS COUNTY (USA), he raced the gelding in Race 6 “Al Reem Handicap” over 1600 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Friday 25th October 2019, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that TRAVIS COUNTY (USA) had been subjected to shockwave therapy three (3) clear days prior to racing.

(2) As the licensed Trainer of FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA), he raced the gelding in Race 6 “Jebel Ali Port Handicap” over 2000 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 23rd January 2020, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) had been subjected to shockwave therapy four (4) clear days prior to racing.

(3) As the licensed Trainer of FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA), he raced the gelding in Race 6 “Jebel Ali Port Handicap” over 2000 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 23rd January 2020, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) had been subjected to shockwave therapy nil (0) clear days prior to racing.

(4) As the licensed Trainer of SULTANAA (GB), he raced the mare in Race 2 “Al Shahama Handicap” over 1400 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 16th February 2020, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that SULTANAA (GB) had been subjected to shockwave therapy three (3) clear days prior to racing.

(5) As the licensed Trainer of CELESTIAL SPHERES (IRE), he raced the gelding in Race 7 “Riviera 2 Handicap” over 2435 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday 29th February 2020, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that CELESTIAL SPHERES (IRE) had been subjected to shockwave therapy two (2) clear days prior to racing.

(6) As the licensed Trainer of SULTANAA (GB), he raced the mare in Race 6 “Medinat Zayed Maiden” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 8th March 2020, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that SULTANAA (GB) had been subjected to shockwave therapy three (3) clear days prior to racing.

(7) As the licensed Trainer of SULTANAA (GB), he raced the mare in Race 6 “Medinat Zayed Maiden” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 8th March 2020, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that SULTANAA (GB) had been subjected to shockwave therapy nil (0) clear days prior to racing.

(8) As the licensed Trainer of FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA), he raced the gelding in Race 4 “The Longines Masters Collection Handicap” over 1600 metres at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday 12th March 2020, contrary to Rule 21E(4), that being that FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) had been subjected to shockwave therapy four (4) clear days prior to racing.

In determining the appropriate penalty in this case, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:

The circumstances of the offence;

The seriousness regarding racing horses within the seven clear day timeframe after receiving shockwave therapy;

General and specific deterrence;

The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;

Mr. I Mohammed had the treatments of shockwave therapy documented in the stable’s medical records, and his co-operation throughout the inquiry;

Mr. I Mohammed’s guilty plea and clear record in relation to shockwave therapy breaches.

Mr. I Mohammed was fined the sum of AED 10,000 for each charge, with a total of AED 80,000 for all eight breaches.

Pursuant to ERA 21E(5), SULTANAA (GB) was disqualified as fifth (5th) place-getter in Race 6, “Medinat Zayed Maiden” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 8th March 2020, with the placings amended to:

Finish Place Horse Name Trainer Jockey

1st  AUTUMN PRIDE (IRE) Helal Al Alawi Szczepan Mazur

2nd EAST ASIA (IRE) Mahmood Hussain Patrick Cosgrave

3rd DILMUN DYNASTY (IRE) Salem bin Ghadayer Xavier Ziani

4th LITECOIN (IRE) Jaber Ramadhan Antonio Fresu

5th MAGIC ILLUSION (GB) Satish Seemar Richard Mullen

Additionally the following horses were disqualified from their respective races at the following venues, with the placings amended;

Horse Name Venue Date Race

TRAVIS COUNTY (USA) Abu Dhabi 25-Oct-2019 6

FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) Meydan 23-Jan-2020 6

SULTANAA (GB) Abu Dhabi 16-Feb-2020 2

CELESTIAL SPHERES (IRE) Meydan 29-Feb-2020 7

FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) Meydan 12-Mar-2020 4

Further, Dr. F Van Der Linde pled guilty to a charge under ERA Rule 11(i) in that his negligence led to horses under his care, undergoing shockwave therapy, on his recommendation within seven (7) clear days prior to racing.  Those being;

 TRAVIS COUNTY (USA) on the 21st October 2019;

 FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) on the 18th January 2020;

 FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) on the 22nd January 2020;

 SULTANAA (GB) on the 12th February 2020;

 CELESTIAL SPHERES (IRE) on the 26th February 2020;

 SULTANAA (GB) on the 4th March 2020;

 SULTANAA (GB) on the 7th March 2020; and

 FESTIVAL OF AGES (USA) on the 7th March 2020.

Which are breaches of ERA Rule 21E(4).

In determining the appropriate penalty in this case, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:

The circumstances of the offence;

The seriousness regarding treating racing horses within the eligible timeframe for shockwave therapy;

That it was Dr. F Van Der Linde’s advice to treat each of the horses with shockwave therapy.

General and specific deterrence;

The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;

Mr. F Van Der Linde’s guilty plea and clear record regarding ERA Rule breaches.

Dr. F Van Der Linde was disqualified for a period of 6 months, commencing immediately and expiring at midnight Monday 28th December 2020.

Relevant Rules:

ERA Rule 11(i) – Any Person who has committed any breach of the Rules, or whose conduct or negligence has led or could have led to a breach of the Rules.

ERA Rule 21E

(4) A Horse that has been subjected to any form of shockwave therapy shall not be eligible to participate in any Race or trial for seven Clear Days.

(5) If it is established by the Stewards that any Horse has started in a Race or Officially Trial contrary to Rule 21E such Horse may be disqualified from any Race and/or Official Trial and the Trainer or any other Person in charge of the Horse may be penalized.

Stewards Panel:

Mr. Sam Shinsky (Chairman), Mr. Taylor Wilson and Mr. Ajay Anne.

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