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Ronan M. P. McNally (Trainer) and K.C. Sexton (Rider) Appeal – Limerick 21st July 2022

The Appeals Body (Division 1), Ms. Susan Ahern B.L. (in the chair), Mr. M.C. Hickey and Mr. Jack Rearden convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Tuesday, 9th August 2022 to consider the appeal of Ronan McNally (Trainer) and Kevin Sexton (Rider) against the decision of the Stewards at Limerick on 21st July 2022 to fine Mr. McNally €2,000, suspend Ithaka for a period of 42 days and to suspend Mr. Sexton for 10 racedays.

On the day, the Stewards found Mr. McNally and Mr. Sexton in breach of Rule 212A(ii) in that Ithaka, was not seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the Horse, timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible place.

The grounds of appeal lodged by Mr. McNally and Mr. Sexton were that the Stewards erred in their decision.

At the Appeal Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. McNally and the panel also viewed a recording of the race.

In his evidence, Mr. McNally began by apologising unreservedly to the Stewards and IHRB staff working at Limerick on the evening in question for his unacceptable behaviour in the Stewards Enquiry following the race. He added that it was behaviour that would not be repeated in the future and fell below that of the expectation of a licenced person. Mr. McNally then outlined how he obtained Ithaka and his previous form in detail. He stated that Ithaka had previously been trained by Johnny Murtagh for a different owner who had intended to ride him in bumpers. However, due to the nervy nature of the horse he was proving a difficult ride and the owner was keen to sell the horse and Mr. McNally purchased him for €5,000. Following the sale of the horse, Mr. McNally confirmed that he gave the horse a period of time off for approximately 10-11 months and added that when he started to train Ithaka he remained very nervous and a difficult horse to train. He said that this characteristic continued at Kilbeggan when he made his debut for Mr. McNally and proved very difficult to mount in the parade ring. Mr. McNally stated that he had picked a race with small runners in Kilbeggan to try and give the horse every chance of not being overawed in a big field but having raced keenly early, he dropped himself out of contention and pulled up which was similar to what he had done on his only start for Mr. Murtagh in a bumper. Mr. McNally stated that the horse showed some minor improvement on his next start in Down Royal when he was dropped in and he was more pleased with him after that run but progress was slow. He said that he opted to go to Limerick for his next start rather than a possible engagement at Downpatrick due to the configuration of the respective tracks as he felt the horse might finish his race in Limerick a bit better. Mr. McNally described the ride given by Mr. Sexton as a masterclass as he put the horse into the race without him knowing he was in a race until the later stages and then he just had no more to give over the last two hurdles. He said he is a horse who needs a lead for as long as possible due to his quirky nature, but he was thrilled with the run and stated that the horse just looked like he got tired close to the finish. He confirmed that he hadn’t given Mr. Sexton any instructions prior to the race as he was satisfied that Mr. Sexton would know the horse well enough from riding him on his previous start in Down Royal.

Having considered the evidence, the panel allowed the appeal in respect of Mr. McNally and Mr. Sexton and ordered that the ban on Ithaka be lifted.


The case was presented by Mr. Michael Daly, IHRB Regulatory Advisor. Mr. McNally and Mr. Sexton were represented by Mr. Kevin Power of Maurice Power Solicitors, Kilmallock, County Limerick.

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