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Ms Sharon Dunphy, Trainer, Referral - Failure to Return Passport

Ms. Sharon Dunphy, Trainer, Referral

Failure to Return Passport

The Referrals Committee, Sean Barry (in the chair), John McStay and N.B. Wachman met at the Turf Club, Curragh, Co Kildare on Thursday 25th July 2013 to consider the referral of Ms Sharon Dunphy (trainer) as a result of her refusal to return the passport for Don Vincenzo to either Horse Racing Ireland or the Turf Club, having been requested to do so on a number of separate occasions.  The matter had been referred to the Referrals Committee by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club. 

The Committee considered evidence from Cathy-Ann Hazzard, Manager of the Racing Department in Horse Racing Ireland. The Committee also considered two submissions from Patrick Kennedy, Solicitor (on behalf of Ms. Sharon Dunphy) and Conal Boyce, Solicitor (on behalf of the Turf Club). 

In her evidence Ms Hazzard said that Horse Racing Ireland had requested Ms Dunphy to return the passport on two occasions, but that she had refused to do so.  She also outlined details of conversations with Ms Dunphy and Pauric Byrne, owner of Don Vincenzo. 

In his submission, Patrick Kennedy outlined the background to the dispute and Ms Dunphy’s version of events.  He said that Ms Dunphy had been asked to return the passport and had refused to do so and accepted that the non-return was a breach of rule.  However, this was due to a dispute with regard to ownership.  He also claimed that the horse was taken unlawfully from Ms Dunphy.

In his submission, Conal Boyce noted the acceptance that Ms Dunphy was in breach of Rules as a result of failing to return the passport.  He referred to provisions of Rule 272 and Regulation R8 and invited the committee to consider whether or not Ms Dunphy was in breach of either or both of these.

Having considered the evidence, the Committee found that Ms Sharon Dunphy was in breach of Rule 272 as her conduct in ignoring letters from both Horse Racing Ireland and the Turf Club was prejudicial to the proper conduct of horse racing.  They also found that she was in breach of Regulation R8 as she had refused to return the passport to Horse Racing Ireland when requested to do so.

In mitigation, Patrick Kennedy said that Ms Dunphy’s behaviour was as a result of her ignorance of the seriousness of the matter and it was never her intention to do anything which was prejudicial to the proper conduct of horse racing.  Conal Boyce said that there was no excuse for a trainer holding onto a passport in lieu of alleged sums due and that there were already a number of previous hearings involving the non-return of passports which confirmed this.

Having considered the submissions, the Committee fined Ms Sharon Dunphy €600 for the breaches of Rule 272 and Regulation R8. They also ordered that she pay a contribution of €500 towards the Turf Club costs.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, solicitor, Naas, Co. Kildare.

Ms Sharon Dunphy was represented by Patrick Kennedy of Patrick J. O’Meara & Co. Solicitors, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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