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David J. Ryan Referral - Random stable inspection 13 Aug 2013

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the chair), John Moloney and Sean Barry met in the Stewards Room, Punchestown Racecourse, Naas, Co. Kildare on Saturday, 16th November 2013, to consider whether or not David J. Ryan, trainer, was in breach of any rules as a result of a random stable inspection carried out at his Training Establishment on 13th August 2013 by Turf Club officials Michael O’Donoghue and Joan Taylor M.R.C.V.S.

During the inspection they found that: (i) A six-year-old filly named Gemmalicious was non-weight bearing on her near foreleg. There was a deep discharging laceration above the fetlock joint across the tendon area as a result of an injury which occurred sometime between Wednesday 7th August and Monday 12th August while David J. Ryan was away. (ii) A Medicines Register was not available for inspection. (iii) None of the horses’ passports were available for inspection. The matter was referred to the Referrals Committee by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.

Evidence was heard from Michael O’Donoghue, Joan Taylor M.R.C.V.S., David J. Ryan, Deirdre Ryan (wife of David J. Ryan), Declan Collins and Murt Fahy.  The Committee also considered a written report on the visit which was completed by Michael O’Donoghue and Joan Taylor M.R.C.V.S.

In his evidence, Michael O’Donoghue outlined what he and Ms. Taylor had found when they called to David J. Ryan’s premises on 13th August 2013.  He said that neither the passports of any of the horses nor the medicines register were available for inspection, as they were in the boot of Deirdre Ryan’s car, who was working away.  Mr. O’Donoghue said that he did make attempts to contact Mrs. Ryan with a view to meeting her but it was not possible to arrange this.

Michael O’Donoghue referred to the condition of Gemmalicious and described the injury.  He said that Mr. Ryan did not know when the injury occurred and that his best estimate was that it occurred sometime between Wednesday, 7th August and Monday, 12th August when he and his family were away.  He said that Mr. Ryan expressed “embarrassment” at the injury and suggested that it may have happened when the horse’s leg became entangled in wire.  Mr. O’Donoghue said that Mr. Ryan had stated that the filly was going to the factory today and that he was waiting for her to be collected. 

In conclusion, Michael O’Donoghue said that Mr. Ryan made no reference to the filly being checked in his absence or that he had left anyone in charge.

In her evidence, Joan Taylor M.R.C.V.S. described the extent of the injury and said she concurred with what David J. Ryan said with regard to the time period within which the injury probably occurred and that it was highly likely that the injury was over 24 hours old in view of the condition of the wound.  She said there was no evidence of veterinary care and that Mr. Ryan had already made a decision to send the filly to the factory prior to her examining the wound.

In his evidence, David J. Ryan said that he only went away on Thursday, 8th August and not on Wednesday, as previously advised to the Turf Club officials.  He said that he left Declan Collins in charge and that Mr. Collins (who is the holder of a qualified rider’s licence) came in each morning and evening to check and feed the horses.  He said he came back late on Monday evening and didn’t notice anything wrong with any of the horses (including Gemmalicious) in the field, though he did accept darkness was falling when he looked.  He said he received a phone call on Tuesday morning from a neighbour, Murt Fahy, to say that one of his horses had broken out to Mr. Fahy’s field and that she appeared to be lame.  As a result he immediately went down with the horsebox and collected Gemmalicious and put her in a stable just before the Turf Club officials arrived.  He said he omitted to tell the officials any of this as he wasn’t “thinking straight” when they arrived.

Mr. Ryan referred to the contact he had with Declan Collins when he was away.  He said he spoke to him on a number of occasions including Saturday and Sunday and on all occasions Mr. Collins assured him that everything was in order.

In relation to the passports and the medicines register not being available for inspection, Mr. Ryan said that they were kept in the boot of his wife’s car for safety, as his house had been broken into previously.  He said they were subsequently sent to the Turf Club for checking, though he did accept that there were issues with some of the passports not being endorsed and vaccinations not being entered.

In her evidence, Deirdre Ryan confirmed that the medicines register and passports were in the boot of her car and why it wasn’t possible to meet the officials on the day they called, as she was away at work.

In his evidence, Declan Collins said that he was a friend of David J. Ryan’s who had worked for him in the past.  He said that Mr. Ryan had asked him to look after the horses when he was away and that he came in each morning and evening to check and feed the horses.  When he checked the horses on Monday morning (12th August), he noticed nothing amiss and said that the four horses in the paddock came up to him to be fed.  He said he didn’t check the horses on Monday evening as Mr. Ryan told him there was no need to do so, as he would be back.

In his evidence, Murt Fahy said that he has land which borders David J. Ryan’s paddock.  Mr. Fahy said he had cattle in the field and when he checked them at 8am on Monday morning, everything was in order.  However, when he checked them at 8am on Tuesday morning, he noticed a horse in the field which appeared to be lame.  He said he immediately phoned David J. Ryan who came up with his horsebox and removed the horse.

Having considered the evidence, the Committee found that David J. Ryan was in breach of Rule 148(i) for failing to produce passports for the horses under his care.  He was fined €260 (€130 each for the two horses under his care which were returned in training) with the cases proven for the other horses under his care not returned in training.  He was also found in breach of 148(iii)(b) for failing to produce a medicines register when requested to do so and was fined €250.

With regard to the condition of Gemmalicious, the Committee found that David J. Ryan was not in breach of any rule.  In arriving at this decision, the Committee said that they were bound by the evidence presented.  They also said that it would have been more desirable if David J. Ryan had given full particulars of what occurred to the Turf Club officials on the day they visited.

The case was presented by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.  David J. Ryan was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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