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John Levins (Trainer) Dundalk 7 September 2014

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Peter Allen and Mrs. J.O. Onions met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 13th October 2014 to consider whether or not John Levins, trainer, was in breach of any rules, as a result of a report received by the Stewards at Dundalk on 7th September 2014 from the Turf Club Veterinary Officer, Terry Smith M.R.C.V.S. 

Mr Smith reported to the Stewards, following the running of the Friday Horse Racing Returns 26th September Handicap Division (ii), that the vaccinations for Havelock Ellis (GB), trained by John Levins were not in conformance with the timelines set out in Rule 91, as the most recent entry was dated 5th September 2014 which was within the previous seven days.  The matter was referred to the Referrals Committee by the Stewards at Dundalk as the vaccinations error was only notified to them after the “winner all right” was announced.

The Referrals Committee also considered the objection of George Kent, trainer of Caliso Bay which finished second, against the result of the race.

Evidence was heard from Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club and John Levins.  The committee also considered a written submission from William Delaney MVB Cert ESM, who vaccinated Havelock Ellis (GB), as well as oral submissions from Barry Ward BL on behalf of John Levins and Frank Ward on behalf of George Kent. 

In his evidence Denis Egan outlined the background to the vaccination error being discovered by Terry Smith.  He also outlined the procedures for race day passport checks and referred to the relevant rules dealing with vaccinations.

In his evidence John Levins said that Havelock Ellis (GB) was vaccinated on 29th August by William Delaney.  He said Mr Delaney did not update the passport at the time and that he brought the passport to Mr Delaney on 5th September to get the vaccination entered on the passport.  Unfortunately Mr Delaney made an error and entered the date he updated the passport, rather than the actual date of the vaccination.  Mr Levins said he was not aware of the mistake until it was pointed out to him by Terry Smith after the race at Dundalk.  He confirmed to the panel that he had the passport with him when Havelock Ellis (GB) entered the stableyard at Dundalk.  Mr Levins said the vaccination error was corrected on the 8th September by Mr Delaney.  Mr Levins submitted a copy of the passport with the correct vaccination date as amended by Mr Delaney to the Committee.

The Committee noted a letter from Mr Delaney confirming that he vaccinated the horse against equine influenza on Friday, 29th August 2014 for Mr Levins at his Training Establishment.  He said he gained possession of the passport on Friday, 5th September and incorrectly recorded the vaccination date on the passport as that date through a clerical error.

Frank Ward said he accepted that Mr Delaney had made a clerical error but under Rule 91(i) Havelock Ellis (GB) was not qualified to start in the race as the passport had indicated that the horse was vaccinated in the previous seven days.  He submitted that if this has been discovered before the race, the horse would not have been eligible to run.  Mr Ward did accept that there is provision in the rules, if vaccinations in the passport are found to be incorrect, for a trainer to certify that the horse is correctly vaccinated which does allow the horse to run.

Barry Ward BL submitted to the committee that the horse was qualified to run as the only error with regard to the vaccinations was a clerical error.  He said that everyone accepted that the horse had been vaccinated correctly. 

Having considered the evidence the Referrals Committee found that Havelock Ellis (GB) was qualified to run in the race as the vaccinations were in order even though the passport had been incorrectly updated.  As such they found that there was no grounds for the objection which was disallowed.  They did order that the objection deposit of €100 be refunded to George Kent. 

The committee found that John Levins was in breach of Rule 90(vi)(b) in that the vaccination details in the passport presented at Dundalk were incorrect and fined him €350.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Solicitor, Naas, Co. Kildare. John Levins was represented by Barry Ward BL.  George Kent was represented by Frank Ward, Frank Ward & Co Solicitors, Dublin 7.

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