Entertainment & Arts

Liam Burker Uncertain About Future After Raid Led To Sleepless Nights

    Horse racing

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Liam Burker took to the media to reveal the trauma he had to go through after being caught in the fallout from the raid on the County Kildare stud farm following the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board announced on Tuesday that all tested racehorses at the premises on November 9 returned negative for banned substances.


The IHRB made sure to take blood and hair samples from all the racehorses that were at Ballintogher Stud in Monasterevin, where equine therapist John Warwick was working.

On Tuesday, the regulator dropped a reply to the pressure to release results of the tests considering the several rumours that had previously spread in horse racing over the past two weeks.


Burke moved to the farm with two racehorses in tow while the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marin (DAFM) officials were carrying out their investigations with gardai, as well as Ted Walsh, who confirmed that he brought a horse to get a tendon scan.

Burke later revealed that one of the horses he trained, Samos Island – which was in the previews for the weeks racing at the time – in his box was due to race at Fairyhouse that same day but was withdrawn by the officials.


The prolific trainer was annoyed with the fact that Samos Island was stopped from racing despite his explanations to the IHRB’s chief veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer that he doesn’t work with Warwick. He revealed that he suffered from panic attacks and hasn’t been able to sleep ever since the controversy, which made him uncertain if he will be renewing his license next year due to this problem.

“By the law of the land you are innocent until proven guilty, but in this instance, I was guilty until proven innocent,” he said. “What happened and the way it was reported by some was just plain wrong.


“I’m 47 years in the game and have never experienced anything like this. I’ve been having panic attacks and I haven’t been able to sleep over it. I’m afraid to face people and have them slagging me behind my back.”

Burke continued: “I was at a point-to-point on Sunday and I heard a couple of fellas behind me talking. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me, but all they were talking about was the doping going on in racing, that it was terrible. That’s the perception that has been portrayed. This thing has been fuelled by people who should know better.


“My name was plastered all over the Sunday papers and on television, everywhere, and people just assumed there was no smoke without fire. Owners have questioned me about it and they aren’t happy about the whole thing. This is impacting people’s lives and businesses, for what? It’s not nice. I’m so low over the whole thing, I’m wondering if I’ll bother renewing my licence at all.”


Walsh, on the other hand, was not worried about the situation. On Tuesday, he said: “I had no worries. It was just one of those things. It was the result that I had 100 per cent expected. I’d love to have a horse who would be as big a certainty to win a race as the result of that was going to be.”

Jessica Harrington confirmed her filly that was there for tendon treatment. She admitted that she had been using Warwick for treatment on the tendon and suspensory problems for a while, before claiming that she had nothing to hide.

The week before, DAFM and the IHRB came as uninvited guests to several stables, which included Harrington’s, after the raid in Monasterevin, and she was calm about the whole thing.

Concerning the inspections, she said: “They went through everything and they’ve tested other horses of mine around some stud farms as well and that’s fine. I don’t mind. They have to do what they have to do. That’s their job.”

On the 9th of November, several animal medicines not licensed for use were discovered in Warwick’s possession in Ireland and they were seized by DAFM. He took to media to claim that while he accepted that he went against rules, there was no dope in his possession and that he won’t ever compromise an owner or trainer by using the banned substances on horses.

IHRB, however, dropped a statement to clarify the investigations carried out in Monasterevin. The statement read: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board can today confirm that the hair and blood samples taken from horses at premises near Monasterevin, County Kildare, on 9th November 2021 have been analysed at LGC laboratories and reported negative for prohibited at all times substances.

“As this is part of an ongoing investigation working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and other agencies, we cannot make any further comment at this time.”


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