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Patrick Joseph Hayes (Trainer) Referral – Inspection 26th February 2020

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke, (in the chair), Mr. Peter N. Reynolds and Ms. Meta Osborne convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday 12th May 2022 to consider whether or not Mr. Patrick Joseph Hayes (Trainer) was in breach of any rules of racing following a stable inspection on 26thFebruary 2020 and a court action under the Animal Health And Welfare Act 2013 which concluded in December 2021.

Evidence was heard from Dr. Lynn Hillyer, IHRB Chief Veterinary Officer and Head of Anti-Doping, Mr. Thomas Austin, Veterinary Surgeon, Mr. Richard Galway, Authorised Representative of trainer Mrs. Jessica Harrington, Dr. Jennifer Pugh, IHRB Senior Medical Officer and Mr. Patrick Hayes, Trainer.

In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer outlined the details of photographs and information she had received on the night of Monday 24th February 2020 of a 4-year-old grey gelding by Requinto and subsequent communication with An Garda Siochána, the charity My Lovely Horse Rescue and Ms. Lizzy Doran, Veterinary Surgeon. Dr. Hillyer confirmed that she was given a report from Ms. Doran on behalf of Mr. Hayes detailing her examination of the Requinto gelding whereby the horse was found to be in an emaciated state with a cardiac murmur and a penile prolapse. The horse was euthanised because of his poor prognosis for recovery. Dr. Hillyer stated that in relation to this horse, Mr. Hayes had fallen far short of the standards expected of a licenced trainer in regard to his care of this gelding, but as adjudged by a stable inspection and examination of all other horses in his care on 26th February 2020, this appeared to be an isolated issue. Dr. Hillyer also gave details of an unannounced stable inspections of Mr. Hayes’ training establishment on 24th January 2022 which again evidenced that no other horses in Mr Hayes’ care and control gave cause for concern in terms of their health, welfare or wellbeing. She added that during the first inspection on 26thFebruary 2020, Mr. Hayes was observed riding out without a body protector and was unable to produce the Medicines Register. Dr Hillyer noted that there were personal circumstances for Mr Hayes in play which, while not excusing what happened, went some way to explaining it.

In his evidence, Mr. Austin confirmed that he has been Mr. Hayes’ veterinary surgeon for three years and has never had any cause for concern in relation to the welfare or wellbeing of any horses in his  care during that time. He stated that he had spoken to Ms. Doran about the Requinto gelding and his interpretation of the situation was that the horse had lost condition rapidly because of the heart murmur condition and that the emaciation was as a result of an underperforming heart rather than a lack of feed. He added that with his knowledge of Mr. Hayes, who he would have cause to visit once or twice a week, he would have no issue having a horse in training there.

In his evidence, Mr. Galway confirmed that he was appearing on behalf of Mrs. Harrington. He stated that Mr. Hayes has had a long working relationship with Mrs. Harrington. Mr. Galway said he became more familiar with Mr. Hayes from 2018 when Mrs. Harrington introduced a policy to reward some of her staff by sending them horses to pre-train and Mr. Hayes has continued to pre-train for Mrs. Harrington ever since. Mr. Galway added that the horses have always arrived to Mrs. Harrington in great condition both physically and in terms of their mentality following Mr. Hayes’ pre-training. Mr. Galway confirmed that Mr. Hayes had immediately informed Mrs. Harrington about the incident involving the Requinto gelding.

In her evidence, Dr. Pugh gave details of her dealings with Mr. Hayes from 2020, the details of which are medically sensitive.  

In his evidence, Mr. Hayes explained that he held a Trainers’ licence from 2005 to 2012 and he renewed his licence again in 2019. He stated that he currently has two part-time staff to look after yard duties and he has a number of people who come in to ride out on a daily basis. He stated that he moved to a new premises in March 2020. In relation to the Requinto gelding, Mr. Hayes recalled that he had been to see the horse and his companion in the field on Friday 21st February 2020. He said that both horses had trotted over to him and that the gelding had looked bright in his eye and gave a buck and a kick and appeared in good form. He stated that he got a phone call on the evening of Monday 24th February 2020 with a complaint about the horses in the field he was renting and he immediately returned to the field and on arrival he saw the Requinto gelding unrugged and he immediately called for veterinary assistance and Ms. Doran arrived soon afterwards. Mr. Hayes admitted that he initially thought the gelding had got a kick from his companion horse. Ms. Doran explained to him that the horse was suffering from a heart murmur and it was in the best interest of the horse to be euthanised. Mr. Hayes said he was left upset by the circumstances and regretted not taking the rug off the horse and inspecting the horse further when he visited the field on the previous Friday. Mr. Hayes said this incident was not in his character and he prides himself on having his horses looking well and explained that his horses would regularly win ‘Best Turned Out’ prizes at the races. Mr. Hayes also provided the panel details of some personal trauma and issues he has suffered from in recent years.

Having considered the evidence, Justice Groarke read out the following decision on behalf of the committee.

“The first thing we want to state is that we entirely accept that this is a one-off situation in which Mr. Hayes finds himself. The evidence in the case is that Mr. Hayes is extremely careful in the manner in which he looks after his horses. Stable inspections, of which three have been carried out in the last two years state that everything, in so far as the welfare of horses, is as it should be and that Mr. Hayes takes great care to look after his horses, as he is required to do by the rules, but he is compliant with that obligation. The situation which Mr. Hayes finds himself in today is a one off. The rules of racing place a responsibility on a licenced trainer to place the welfare of the horses in their career as a priority and that is the most primary rule in so far as Trainers are concerned. In this instance, Mr. Hayes accepts he did not meet that standard and he accepts by reason of him not meeting that standard, that he has brought racing into disrepute. No issue is made by Mr. Hayes other than to accept that what he did or didn’t do was wrong on his part and that he carries responsibility for that. Previously, he has been convicted by a Criminal Court of Justice of the breaches of the Acts and Regulations which have been opened before us and penalties have been imposed following upon a verdict by a jury at Naas Circuit Court. Our tribunal today is on a different matter as it deals with breaches of the rules of racing. We have regard only to those rules in considering the evidence that we have heard and what the consequences of that evidence may be. Mr. Hayes accepts his guilt, accepts his responsibility and accepts what the consequence of his guilt are for the interests of racing in this country. In considering penalty, we must have regard for factors which are mitigatory and factors which are aggravating. As far as the aggravating circumstances are concerned, the aggravating factor is the state of that horse in his care, for which he had responsibility, ultimately leading to the euthanising of the horse. That is the singular aggravating factor in this race. There are a number of factors to which we must have regard when considering what matters are mitigating of penalty. The first of these obviously is that Mr. Hayes put up his hand straight away, accepted his guilt, accepted his responsibility and immediately had an awareness of the consequences of his actions or lack of actions. He was fully cooperative with the enquiries carried out by the IHRB. He has no previous disciplinary record, nor has he ever come to the attention of the inspectors of the IHRB. Stable inspections, as already noted, are and have been extremely positive, save for the two minor matters. He is clearly a very hard-working man and has been quite successful in his renaissance as a Trainer of more recent times. We are satisfied that failures in this particular case are out of character for Mr. Hayes. He said and gave evidence here today with a degree of pride about how he knows his horses very well and we don’t doubt that that is so and that he has great regard for the wellbeing of his horses. The immediate consequential effects of this incident for Mr. Hayes are described as, in the first instance his reputation suffered considerable damage as a conviction in a criminal court will do. He has lost a certain amount of the affection in which he would otherwise be held within the racing community. He has suffered considerable mental health difficulties and really this particular incident we are dealing with is one of a confluence of other circumstances which have been outlined today. He doesn’t offer these as an excuse for his failures to look after the horse in question, he doesn’t offer any excuse for that and we respect that that is so. The rules which we must deal with here are Rule 148(iii), in that he had failed to keep his Medicines Register up to date. We propose to impose a fine of €250 for this breach.  In regard to Rule148(v)(b), in that he was riding out without a Body Protector, we propose to impose a fine of €200 for this breach. Then comes the issue of Rule 148(i) which requires that a Trainer shall be responsible for everything connected to the training, welfare, running of all horses under the care of that Trainer. Rule 272 provides that any person involved in horseracing, who within the jurisdiction of the IHRB, whether verbally or by conduct or behaviour acts in a manner which is prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horse racing shall be in breach of these rules and liable to sanction. This committee is extremely conscious of the need that the reputation of horseracing in this country must be maintained as a priority, not just for the good of horse racing itself but for the good of the people who rely upon horse racing as a source of livelihood. Irish people are generally extremely proud of the manner in which horses are looked after to the highest standards in this country and are justly proud of that situation. It follows therefore, where there is a failure to meet that particular standard, that punishment must follow and whilst we have regard to those mitigating factors and the aggravating factor, and to the pleas that have been made with considerable forensic care by Mr. Crean and Mr. Coonan, we are of the view that a suspension of Mr. Hayes’ licence to train cannot be avoided. We propose that suspension be for a period of 15 months, commencing from 1st June 2022. In addition to that we propose to allow a sum of €2,500 in respect of today’s costs.”

The case was presented by Ms. Béibhinn Murphy BL, instructed by Ms Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance. Mr. Hayes was represented by Mr. Frank Crean BL, instructed by Mr. Andrew Coonan of Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, County Kildare.


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