Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

T.J. O’Mara (trainer) Referral

Down Royal – 27th May 2011

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Philip Caffrey and Martin P. O’Donnell met in the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 23rd January 2012 to consider whether or not T.J. O’Mara was in breach of any Rule as a result of Conor O’Donnell attempting to gain access to the stable yard at Down Royal Racecourse on 27th May 2011, when using Mr. O’Mara’s A.I.R. Swipe Card.  They also considered whether or not Mr. O’Mara was in breach of any Rule as a result of his failure to nominate an authorised representative for that meeting.  Both matters had been referred to the Referrals Committee by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.

Evidence was heard from Mark Carroll, Turf Club Security Officer and T.J. O’Mara.

In his evidence Mr. Carroll said he was on duty at Down Royal on 27th May 2011 when Ger Shanahan of Stable Yard Security called him to the stable yard entrance.  When he arrived another member of the security team, Tom Earley, told Mr. Carroll that a man had approached him and tendered Mr. O’Mara’s swipe card for the purpose of entering the stable yard.  When challenged, the man admitted that he was not Thomond O’Mara and that his name was Conor O’Donnell.  He said that he was assistant trainer to Thomond O’Mara.  However he was unable to produce an Authority to Act or any documentation to support his assertion. He was with John McSweeney who was leading up Mr. O’Mara’s horse Pimlico Sound. Mr. McSweeney had no pass to enter the stable yard. Mr. Carroll issued a temporary pass to Mr. McSweeney and referred the matter to the Stewards on duty at Down Royal that day.  It was not possible for the Stewards to hold an enquiry as neither Mr. O’Donnell nor Mr. McSweeney were authorised to act for Mr. O’Mara and were not aware that Mr. O’Mara had nominated any person to act on his behalf in accordance of the provisions of Rule 147.

In his evidence Mr. O’Mara outlined the sequence of events, which led to Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. McSweeney transporting Pimlico Sound to Down Royal. He said that Mr. O’Donnell did not work for him and was obliging him on the day by driving Mr.O’Mara’s lorry.  He said he left his wallet with his stable yard pass in the lorry and that was obviously where Mr. O’Donnell got the pass from and used it without Mr. O’Mara being aware that it was being used. He denied that he had not nominated an authorized representative on the day and said that Michael Gunn was in attendance and that he had given the riding instructions to him. He also said that he had informed Mr. Gunn to meet with Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. McSweeney at the stable yard, but that he hadn’t done this. He also said that neither Mr. O’Donnell nor Mr. McSweeney would have been aware that Mr. Gunn was his authorized representative.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee found T.J. O’Mara in breach of Rule 148 (i) as he had failed to give specific instructions to allow his authorised representative deal with the matters, which arose in a timely way with the result that an unsatisfactory situation developed.  He was therefore fined €350.

The Committee was also satisfied that based on the evidence given there may have been misconduct by others and they asked that this matter be pursued by the Turf Club.

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


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