Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Lee Smyth Referral (failure to return passport)

Lee Smyth (trainer) Referral - Failure to return passport

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Martin O’Donnell and John Powell met at the Turf Club, the Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 27th August 2012 to consider the referral of Lee Smyth (trainer), as result of his refusal to return the passport for Richelieu (GB) to either Horse Racing Ireland or the Turf Club, having been requested to do so on four separate occasions.  The matter had been referred to the Referrals Committee by Seamus Gibson, Secretary to the Licensing Committee of the Turf Club.

Evidence was heard from Mrs. Vicki McWey, Supervisor Registrations Department, Horse Racing Ireland and Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.  The Committee also considered written evidence from Lee Smyth.

In her evidence Mrs. McWey confirmed that Horse Racing Ireland had been approached by the owner of Richelieu (GB) who said that he was unable to get his passport back from Lee Smyth as the latter refused to release it.  She said that Horse Racing Ireland wrote to Mr. Smyth on a number of occasions asking for the passport to be returned, but to no avail.  She confirmed that she had spoken to Mr. Smyth and that he accepted he had received these letters from Horse Racing Ireland.  She also said that Mr. Smyth had failed to notify Horse Racing Ireland on the appropriate form or by Minitel when Richelieu (GB) had left his yard. 

In his evidence, Denis Egan said that Mr. Smyth was unable to attend the hearing this morning as he had to attend Dundalk races which was a rescheduled fixture.  He said that he had spoken to Mr. Smyth and that he was happy the hearing should go ahead.  The Committee confirmed that they were happy to proceed on that basis.

In his written evidence, Lee Smyth explained the background as to why he had not released the passport to the owners.  He alleged that Richelieu (GB) was removed from his property by the owner without his permission.  He alleged that monies were due to him which was the main reason why he refused to release the passport.  He claimed that the owner was in breach of rule as he had transported the horse illegally without the passport. 

Having considered the evidence the Committee found that Lee Smyth was in breach of Rule 148(vi) in that he failed to notify Horse Racing Ireland that Richelieu (GB) had left his yard and that he was also in breach of Regulation R8 in that he failed to return the passport to Horse Racing Ireland when requested to do so.  He was fined €130 for the first breach and €250 for the second breach of rule.  He was also ordered to pay €200 towards Turf Club costs. 

In arriving at their decision the Referrals Committee noted that the retention of the passport cannot be used by trainers as a method of gaining leverage on debts due by owners to trainers, and that trainers must realise this. The Committee also said that they would deal with the matter further in the event that the passport is not returned immediately.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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