KIERAN Cotter will appeal against the severity of the fines imposed on him this week by the Referrals Committee.

The Co Laois trainer was fined a total of €27,500 and ordered to pay €7,500 in legal costs following a case involving a positive post-race test by one of his winners and a subsequent stableyard inspection by officers from the Department of Agriculture and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

It was the unannounced inspection which led to the bulk of the financial penalty for Cotter. While no prohibited substances were found and no results of concern were returned from any of the horses tested, a number of veterinary products were found in bottles, needles and syringes.

The prosecution claimed “the substances identified in the used needles and syringes matched residues found in the bottles on the premises that were of concern, including cobalt, ketoprofen, caffeine, dexamethasone, hydrochlorthiazide, trichlormethiazide and medroxyprogesterone acetate.”

The Referrals Committee was satisfied that Cotter was administering veterinary medicines to his horses other than under veterinary supervision. They described it as “extremely aggravating” that no medicines register had been maintained for a number of years prior to February 2021.

It was for this offence they imposed a fine of €20,000.

Cotter was fined a total of €7,500 over the positive post-race test returned by his horse Slade Runner at Dundalk in January 2021. The horse tested positive for cobalt, a substance which is regulated in Ireland as a prohibited substance as it can affect performance.

Speaking to The Irish Field yesterday, Cotter said: “I realise certain standards fell short of what is expected and have made the necessary changes. As a licensed trainer for over 26 years with an unblemished record I fully engaged and cooperated with the enquiry from the outset.

“I’m therefore astounded with the severity of the disproportionate fines imposed and will appeal these.

“My horse Slade Runner tested positive for cobalt and this happened because I treated him for a faecal issue with an over-the-counter product.

“I was horrified that it caused a five-billionth of a gram positive. That is the equivalent of a clock being five seconds wrong in 32 years. For this I received a €2,500 fine for administering it without veterinary advice. The standard fine for medicine register related offences is approximately €200-€800, yet my fine was €20,000!”

Cotter, who also plans to query the legal costs he has been ordered to pay, said he has received numerous messages of support from owners and fellow trainers this week, and confirmed that it was business as usual at his yard, which he runs with business partner Danny Murphy.

“This week we started erecting 10 new boxes and we will fill them all,” he said.