Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Integrity Portal

Mr John Nallen (Handler) Identity Query Referral - Stonehall (H) Point to Point 28 January 2024

The Referrals Committee, Mr N.B. Wachman (Chairman), Mr John Murphy and Mr Noel McCaffrey convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Monday, 26 February 2024 to consider a referral from Mr Paul Murtagh, INHS CLG Registrar & Senior Racing Official in relation to the identification of Minella Sergeant, trained by Mr John Nallen, which was due to run in the 5yo Geldings Maiden at the Stonehall (H) Point to Point fixture on Sunday 28 January 2024.

On the day, the Acting Stewards received a report from Ms Nicola O’Connor, IHRB Veterinary Officer, that she could not positively identify Minella Sergeant, as the microchip number in the horse presented to run did not correspond with the microchip number in Minella Sergeant’s passport, but instead appeared to correspond with Minella Mission, another horse in Mr Nallen’s care. Consequently, the Acting Stewards ordered the withdrawal of the horse on the day and referred the matter to a Senior Racing Official for further investigation.

At the Referral Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. Nallen and the Committee also considered DNA reports from Weatherbys Ireland in relation to both Minella Sergeant and Minella Mission.

In his evidence, Mr. Nallen explained that he was initially surprised when informed at the Stonehall (H) fixture that the horse presented to run as Minella Sergeant could not be positively identified by Ms O’Connor, as he was under the impression going to the Point to Point fixture that he was bringing the correct horse. He stated that he purchased both horses (Minella Sergeant and Minella Mission) as foals in November 2019 at the same sale. He stated that he checked the markings of both horses when they arrived on his premises but did not check the microchip number of either horse as he was under the impression at that time that only a Veterinary Surgeon could purchase a microchip reader and that they were not available for use to the general public. Mr Nallen stated that although they both were different types of horses, their markings were very similar, although on a subsequent examination of the markings, he noted that Minella Mission had two whorls at upper eye level whereas Minella Sergeant only has one. Mr Nallen further stated that the mix-up of identities presumably occurred when they arrived on his premises in November 2019. Mr Nallen further acknowledged that he had completed naming forms for both horses in September 2023, but while he checked the markings, he did not check the microchip number of either horse. Mr Nallen apologised for making a genuine mistake and assured the Committee that he has taken active measures to prevent a reoccurrence of a similar incident including the purchase of a new microchip reader.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee were satisfied that Mr. Nallen was in breach of Rule 85 (vi) and Rule 90 (ii) and imposed a fine of €250 to cover both breaches.

The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance.

Copyright © 2018, I.H.R.B, All Rights Reserved.