Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Thomas McLaughlin (Restricted Trainer) Random Stable Inspection 28 Aug 2013

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), P.J.A. O’Connor and Hugh Ferguson met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 7th October 2013 to consider the referral of Thomas McLaughlin, restricted trainer, by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club following a random stable inspection carried out at his Training Establishment on 28th August 2013 by Turf Club Officials, Michael O’Donoghue and Terry Smith M.R.C.V.S.  

During the inspection they found that:

(i) A medicines register was not available for inspection.

(ii) The condition of Druids Castle was unacceptable.  Racing ponies were stabled amongst the racehorses.

(iii) An unnamed 10 year old pony stabled at the premises had recently run at Dingle.

(iv) The condition of a new arrival 8 year old gelding was poor.  

Evidence was heard from Michael O’Donoghue, Terry Smith M.R.C.V.S. and Thomas McLaughlin. The Committee also considered a written report on the visit from Michael O’Donoghue and Terry Smith.  

In his evidence Michael O’Donoghue said the inspection team arrived at Mr. McLaughlin’s premises at 3.35pm and left at 5.40pm. They checked for the presence of the two horses listed on Mr. McLaughlin’s most recent list of horses returned in training. The two horses were identified from their microchip numbers. There were a number of other racehorses, racing ponies and trekking ponies on the premises. Mr. O’Donoghue said that the mix of racehorses and racing/trekking ponies on the same premises was unacceptable due to the possibility of cross infection of equine diseases.  

In his evidence Terry Smith said that he inspected the condition of the two horses returned in training and other than a saddle sore on each of their backs he found them to be in a satisfactory condition.

He inspected 3 other horses present in the yard and 2 ponies, one approximately 10 years old and the other approximately 20 years old. The first horse was a 4-year-old gelding which was in a satisfactory condition. The next was an 8-year-old which Mr. McLaughlin said had newly arrived. This animal was subsequently found to be named Waveney Heights and was in poor condition, had been out of training since February 2011 and had not run on the track since December 2010. The final horse was a 12 year old Druids Castle which was in very poor condition and had a filling in the off fore leg resembling an arthritic problem.  He had been returned out of training and out on grass by Mr. McLaughlin in January 2012 and had not run on the track since September 2010. Mr. Smith was concerned about the welfare of this horse and advised Mr. McLaughlin that the animal was in need of worm dosing and a large quantity of proper feeding under veterinary guidance and observation.

Mr. Smith noted some items stored in an unlocked medicines press in the tack/feed room and requested the production of the Medicines Register which was unavailable. Mr. McLaughlin said that he was unable to produce it as was it was with another person and that he was away for the day. (Mr. McLaughlin subsequently produced a veterinary register at today’s hearing which did not contain sufficient information and was not in the prescribed format).     

In his evidence Thomas McLaughlin said in relation to Druids Castle that this horse was previously owned by a syndicate who did not wish to continue paying for the keep of the horse. It was subsequently bought by a young girl and had been out on grass due to a lack of sufficient funds to nourish him properly. The horse had come in off grass and had been stabled in the yard without him knowing and without his permission. He said that the condition of Druids Castle had improved significantly since the inspection as he had taken over responsibility for the horse’s welfare. He said the pony belong to his grandson who rode it in pony races.  He said that he stored the feed in another stable but he was not asked to show the feed by the inspection team.  

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee found Thomas McLaughlin to be in breach of Rule 148(iii)(b) in respect of the non-availability of the Medicines Register and fined him €130. The Committee found Mr. McLaughlin to be in technical breach of Rule 275(iii) as they felt that by training racing ponies he was participating in unrecognized meetings.  However they did not impose any sanction in view of the reasons outlined by Mr. McLaughlin for the presence of the ponies. They informed Mr. McLaughlin that ponies should not be kept in the same yard as racehorses and directed that they be relocated to another yard.

The Committee said that they were giving Mr. McLaughlin the benefit of the doubt in respect of the condition of some of the racehorses under his care and pointed out to him the standards expected of a licensed trainer. They directed that Mr. McLaughlin’s Training Establishment and horses be randomly inspected over the coming 12 months to ensure that acceptable standards are in place.    

The Committee ordered that Thomas McLaughlin pay a contribution of €500 towards Turf Club costs.  

The case was presented by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club, Curragh, Co. Kildare.


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