Irish racing will be bracing itself in the fear that Graham Holland should win the Irish Derby with one of his 16 entries.
Any positive publicity would surely be blotted out by the white cloud of the three Clonbrien Hero positives for ‘cocaine’ as detected during the Irish Laurels 13 months ago.
On September 22 will idle journalists will be Googling ‘Laurels+Holland+cocaine’ as they consider edging a four-pages-from-the-back news story onto a front page lead as the struggling mainstream print world plummets yet lower in its arms race with the false news internet.
The internet trolls – usually people with at least one inferiority complex for every brain cell – will be having wet dreams over the whole sorry scenario.
So let’s compare the Holland case with the two mentioned in recent columns (apologies to those who read the first two articles, but bear with me).
The first concerned Bruno Berwick who lost his licence for six months and was fined £2,000 after a benzoylecgognine positive with a Perry Barr grader.
He was found guilty of administering or allowing to be administered’ a banned substance. It is case for which the GBGB have since admitted they got it wrong.
The second related to the more recent case of Kelly Tobin. The a benzoylecgognine levels were not recorded in the enquiry (!) but I understand that they were similar.
There was no penalty for administering/allowing the drug to be given, but for the lesser charge of ‘being in charge’ of the greyhound. Fine £750.
So how does the Holland case compare?
Well in the first instance, my understanding (not that I have evidence of course) is that the three Clonbrien Hero samples were tested at 2ng/ml, 1ng/ml with the third indeterminate by being under 1ng/ml.
So, Bruno’s sample ‘6 parts per billion’ was three times higher than the highest of the Holland cases.
Now the trolls will bleat ‘well he was still trying to cheat!’
The samples were for benzoylecgognine, the metabolite produced by the body as it assimilates cocaine – NOT COCAINE.
Benzoylecgognine is very roughly a ‘five hour to five day’ substance.
You won’t detect it until five hours after the dog is tested, and it will be gone within five days.
More importantly – it is of NO BENEFIT to the dog. Cocaine, which might be, is only effective for two hours.
As was the case with Bruno Berwick, the dog could not have been given cocaine within two hours of it racing, within intent to cheat, because cocaine itself would have appeared in the sample.
A blind man could see, it was clearly a case of small levels of exposure to the drug, many hours, or most likely days, earlier.
Indeed it seems inevitable that the dog was in regular contact with low levels of the drug since the metabolite couldn’t survive in the system from one Saturday test to the next.
As is well known, Graham Holland wasn’t even in Ireland at the time of two of the samples. (Check ‘SKY TV, 2017 Star Sports Derby coverage’ for his alibi.)
While Graham was away, there was some additional part-time help taken on in the kennel. But as in the Bruno Berwick case with outside workmen fitting security equipment, we will never know . . .
But none of this is what REALLY pisses me off about this case. It is the attitude of the Irish Greyhound Board.
With no enquiry, they decided – what I believe to have been the first and only time ever – to announce the three positives on the IGB website.
The Holland family immediately became subjects of abuse and hatred. Phone calls, emails, messages on social media, comments in the paddock from trainers and punters.
“You’ve had you fucking comeuppance you cheating bastard” was a great favourite.
But then the Board were quite shy when it came to dealing with the man himself. I understand that to even find out what the laboratory results were, he had to force a public disclosure order against the semi state body.
A year on – I understand – he is still spending money on lawyers trying to ensure he gets a fair hearing – whenever that may be. In the meantime Irish greyhound folk should prepare for any number of damaging stories being seized on by the media.
By now Holland runners virtually have their own sampling unit. One recent Leger runner was sampled six times.
Which makes it interesting to hear that the Board have – apparently, its very secret you see – introduced a threshold level of 20ng/ml for benzoylecgognine. Ten times higher than the upper Clonbrien Hero sample.
I believe Graham just wants to have his name cleared.
If I was in his position I would ask a ‘no foal, no fee’ solicitor to sue the **** out of the IGB.
There is one final point on this story – which I feel needs raising. Why was it Graham Holland that was hung out to dry?
Now we all know, that there have been a string of other positives, sometimes when handled by well connected trainers. I can’t ever remember reading about any others on ‘Talking Dogs’
Now there is a dark side of me that questioned ‘is it his accent?’
Over four decades I’ve met a few Irishmen who hate the Brits. But no more than thick tattooed yobs in Union Jack T-shirts telling the ‘Paddys’ or ‘Pakis’ to **** off back there they came from.
But that isn’t the Ireland I have grown to know so well. It doesn’t sit right. The Irish are, culturally a great sporting nation. Look at their football fans. They celebrate sporting achievements and probably invented the phrase ‘fair play’.
(I am even married into an Irish family – check out the brother-in-law’s band).
No, I think Graham Holland was an ideal scapegoat when IGB were looking to sell their racing product abroad.
Who better to exploit for publicity, when they were promoting toughness on integrity, than a multi time champion trainer?
I write this piece in the public interest of fairness, decency and justice (‘fair play’). I invite the IGB to challenge any aspect of this piece and I will accord them equal coverage and a chance to explain their actions.
My thanks to Towcester racing manager Chris Page for highlighting the exploits of Richard Yeates’ tremendous bitch Freedom Emma.
While none have the class of the dam, who won an English Oaks, her four litters have certainly been prolific.
All five of her first litter, by Westmead Hawk, reached the track and contested 277 races between them.
There were six in her next litter by Kinloch Brae. The star of the litter was Honest John who finished runner-up in the Midland Puppy Derby and British Breeders Stakes.
Again all reached the track and they have amassed 296 races between them with Liddy Lou (95) still going in her fourth season.
A litter of six pups by Droopys Scolari followed in Feb ’14. Five of the six reached the track including four who are still competing. Top dog with 111 races is Optimus Prime and the litter have a colossal 475 outings to date.
Emma’s final litter, seven pups from a repeat to Kinloch Brae were born in October of the same year.
All seven (obviously) made the track, albeit Lotachoice has since been red-carded. Litter races to date, 420 (in-play).
The point of the article is not merely to celebrate the achievements of a great brood bitch.
If the 24 Freedom Emma pups can average 63 races each, does that not suggest that durability is ‘a thing’?
They ran on either Wimbledon or Towcester, under different track configurations and going preparations, and were resilient enough to survive nearly 1,300 races between them.
As greyhound numbers decline, another factor surely worth exploring?