Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

John Gerard Fitzgerald (Trainer) Random Stable Inspections 23rd & 24th July 2014

The Licensing Committee, Peter N. Reynolds (in the chair), Ms Caroline Corballis and Noel McCaffrey met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Wednesday, 17th September to consider the referral of John Gerard Fitzgerald, Restricted Trainer, by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club following two random stable inspections carried out at his Training Establishment on 23rd and 24th July 2014 by Turf Club Officials, Michael O'Donoghue and Ms Nicola O'Connor M.R.C.V.S. During the inspections the Officials discovered a number of irregularities.

Evidence was heard from Michael O'Donoghue, Ms Nicola O'Connor M.R.C.V.S and John Gerard Fitzgerald. The Committee also considered a written report on the visit and photographs of the 3-y-o bay filly Moss Vale ex Trivandrun and 4-y-o bay gelding Alhaarth ex Dalniya. They also noted a veterinary report from John Noonan M.R.C.V.S dated 11th August 2014 on the examination of the horses. John Gerard Fitzgerald submitted a written report for consideration by the Licensing Committee on the improvements carried out since the random inspections.

In his evidence Michael O'Donoghue outlined what was discovered during the visits on 23rd and 24th July 2014 and in particular concerns that both he and Nicola O'Connor M.R.C.V.S had about the welfare of the horses in training and other horses under the trainers care, the general untidiness of the premises, the lands and grazing paddocks covered in ragwort, the lack of feed, hay and shavings, the sharing of the facilities with six polo ponies owned by one of John Gerard Fitzgerald's riders, the lack of shelter for horses while grazing in 27 degrees Celsius temperature and administration irregularities that needed to be addressed. He accepted that the written report submitted by John Gerard Fitzgerald showed a very noticeable improvement since the dates of the random stable inspection and emphasised that this standard must be maintained as a minimum requirement.

In her evidence Nicola O'Connor M.R.C.V.S outlined her findings in relation to the two horses returned in training, one horse at grass and two young horses in light exercise and further confirmed that she had concerns about the overall welfare of all horses under the care of John Gerard Fitzgerald. She expressed a great concern over the bare paddocks covered with ragwort being used daily by all animals on the premises and also the possibility of cross contamination between the thoroughbreds and the polo ponies. She expressed concerns over the lack of feed, hay and bedding supplies and the lapses in the vaccinations recorded for three of the animals under the trainers care.

Evidence was heard from John Gerard Fitzgerald who provided a veterinary report dated 11th August 2014 from John Noonan M.R.C.V.S together with his report on the improvements carried out since the random inspections. He also submitted the identity documents of three horses under his care with vaccinations now in order. He fully accepted the concerns of the inspectors in relation to their findings of both days inspections. He said that all of the irregularities identified by the Officials had now been addressed. He stated that the polo ponies had been removed from his premises and the transport lorry was no longer on site or to be used for movement of his animals in the future. He offered the Officials the opportunity to return to his premises to confirm that all irregularities had now been addressed to the satisfaction of all parties.

Having considered the evidence the Licensing Committee expressed a view that the random inspection reports revealed that these premises were not being maintained at a satisfactory standard but today's presentation by John Gerard Fitzgerald had shown noted improvements to all irregularities and therefore adjourned the case and requested that a further random inspection be carried out by Michael O'Donoghue and Nicola O'Connor M.R.C.V.S  to ensure that the irregularities identified had been addressed. They also accepted an undertaking from John Gerard Fitzgerald that he would, with immediate effect, cease to make any further entries for any animals under his care at his registered premises pending the random inspection report and the reconvening of this case. They, therefore, agreed that the matter will be adjourned until the report of the next random inspection has been completed and submitted to the Turf Club.

John Gerard Fitzgerald was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Solicitor, Naas, Co. Kildare.

 


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