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Sean T. Doyle (Restricted Trainer) Robert A. Latta (Q.R.) Random Stable Inspection

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), P.J.A. O’Connor and Hugh Ferguson met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 7th October 2013 to consider the referrals of Sean Thomas Doyle, restricted trainer, and Robert Andrew Latta, Qualified Rider by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club following a random stable inspection carried out at the Training Establishment of Sean Thomas Doyle on 23rd August 2013 by Turf Club Officials, Michael O’Donoghue and Ms. Nicola O’Connor M.R.C.V.S.   During the inspection they found that:

i) Golden Palm and Little Mitch which had been returned in training by Sean Thomas Doyle were never under his care but were at all times under the care of Robert Andrew Latta.

ii) The training establishment that Sean Thomas Doyle was operating from had not been registered with the Turf Club.

iii) No medicines register was available for inspection.  

Evidence was heard from Michael O’Donoghue, Ms Nicola O’Connor M.R.C.V.S. Sean Thomas Doyle and Robert Andrew Latta. The Committee also considered a written report on the visit from Mr. O’Donoghue and Ms. O’Connor.   In his evidence Michael O’Donoghue said that the inspection team arrived at Mr. Doyle’s licensed premises at 2.10pm to carry out the inspection. Having met with Mr. Doyle they discovered that a new stableyard had been built on another farm and that the horses were being trained from that location. This was not the Training Establishment that Mr. Doyle had registered with the Turf Club in 2009 and as such was unlicensed. The Training Establishment registered in 2009 by Mr. Doyle was no longer in use.

The inspection team visited the new stableyard and checked for the presence of the four horses which had been returned in training by Mr. Doyle. They found that one of the horses listed had been out of training with an injury since its last run in July, one was identified from its passport and two horses were not present in the yard namely Golden Palm and Little Mitch. Mr. Doyle said that these horses were away exercising on a beach with Andrew Latta who was related to the owner of both animals. As there was no evidence of the two horses having been stabled in this new yard and following some discussion, Mr. Doyle admitted that the two horses were not under his care but were in the care of Mr. Latta at a neighbouring farm belonging to the Latta family. This fact was accepted by Mr. Latta on arrival into the yard with the two horses and the passports.

Michael O’Donoghue concluded by saying that both Mr. Doyle and Mr. Latta cooperated fully with the inspection team.   In her evidence Ms. Nicola O’Connor confirmed Michael O’Donoghue’s account of the inspection and confirmed that Golden Palm and Little Mitch were not stabled in either the licensed or unlicensed premises of Mr. Doyle and as such were not under his care. She said that Mr. Doyle did not have a Medicines Register available for inspection. She said she also noted that medicines were present in the veterinary unit but there was no evidence that any drug had been administered to any of the horses.   In his evidence Sean Thomas Doyle admitted that the two horses were not under his care. He explained that the new yard was built closer to his gallop. It was a family run enterprise run by himself and his brothers and mainly consisted of Point-to-Point horses. He did not realise that the new premises needed to be licensed as it was located on the same family owned farm. He said that he had a close relationship with his neighbour Andrew Latta with whom he shared facilities and who rode for him on several occasions at Point-to-Points. He said that he was satisfied with the physical condition of the horses at all times even though they were stabled at the Latta farm. He also said that he saw the two horses each time they used his gallops and that he entered, declared and brought the horses to the races on almost all the occasions when the horses had run. 

In his evidence Robert Andrew Latta said that his father had a handlers licence in 2012 for Point-to-Points and that he ran Golden Palm in Pont-to-Point races. He said he owned horses in partnership with Mr. Doyle and rode out for him regularly. He agreed that Mr. Doyle made the entries for the two horses. He said that as Little Mitch was a box walker it was trained out of the field. He said that he had ambitions to train himself and had recently made application to complete the trainers’ course.    Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee found, in Sean Thomas Doyle’s case, that he was in breach of:-

(i) Rule 273(viii) as there was misuse of his restricted trainers’ licence in that he had misled the Turf Club and the public by indicating that he was the trainer of Golden Palm and Little Mitch when this was not the case, (ii) Rule 148(iii)(b) as a Medicines Register was not available for inspection, (iii) Rule 147(vi) as he was found to be training horses from an unlicensed premises.

In the case of Robert Andrew Latta, they found that he was in breach of Rule 273(viii) as he was in effect the trainer of both Golden Palm and Little Mitch without being licensed to do so.

On the question of penalty, the Committee took account of the evidence given by both men and of the matters raised by Andrew Coonan on their behalf in mitigation of penalty.  Although there was an initial attempt by Mr. Doyle to conceal the true situation from the inspectors, the Committee accepted that thereafter he had co-operated as fully as possible with the inspectors and with the subsequent investigation and hearing.  They also took account that neither had a record of previous breaches of the Rules and accepted that Sean Thomas Doyle did not benefit in any way from his actions which were done purely to assist Andrew Latta.

The Committee decided that since conduct of this type involved serious disregard for the basic integrity of the licensing system, and since training and running horses in such circumstances involved serial misrepresentations to the racing authorities and members of the public reliant upon the accuracy of details published pertaining to the training of horses, the starting point for the consideration of penalty in such cases ought to be a period of permanent or lengthy disqualification.

Having regard to the mitigating factors applicable in these cases, the Committee opted for the approach of imposing a period of suspensions at the lower end of this scale.  The Committee was also of the opinion that the imposition of a suspended or monetary penalty in respect of such breaches would be appropriate only in the most exceptional circumstances.

In relation to the breaches of Rule 273(vii) by Sean Thomas Doyle, the Committee suspended the restricted licence to train which had been issued to Mr. Doyle for the year 2013/14 with effect from 1st December 2013 and declared that he is prohibited by reason of these findings from holding such a licence (or a full training licence) for a period of 18 months from that date.  He was fined €300 for the breach of Rule 148(iii)(b) and €130 for the breach of Rule 147(vi).

In relation to Mr. Latta, the Committee declared that he is not entitled by reason of the findings against him to apply for or to hold either a restricted or full training licence for a period of two years with effect from 21st October 2013.

Both Sean Thomas Doyle and Robert Andrew Latta were ordered to make a contribution of €200 towards the costs of the hearing.

The Committee recommends that if either Mr. Doyle or Mr. Latta  lodge an appeal against finding or penalty within the time provided by this Rule, the operation of the relevant penalty should be stayed by the Turf Club pending resolution of any such appeal.

As a result of the findings that Golden Palm and Little Mitch were trained by Robert Andrew Latta and pursuant to Rule 147(ii) they disqualified both horses from the following races:

Golden Palm

167B - Bellewstown 7th July 2013 – 4th

179F - Killarney 15th July 2013 – won

206C – Roscommon 6th August 2013 – unplaced

222F – Roscommon 19th August 2013 – unplaced

252D – Listowel 15th September 2013 – unplaced

The result of these races now read:-

Bellewstown 7th July 2013 – Race 167B

1st – Golden Wonder

2nd – Georges Conn

3rd – Romeo Is Bleeding

4th – Sam Di Vinci (GER)

Killarney 15th July 2013 – race 179F

1st – Andreas Pride

2nd – Faustina Pius

3rd – Texas Rose

4th – Bennys Girl

Little Mitch

208G – Sligo 8th August 2013 – 2nd

247G – Galway 10th September 2013 – 5th

Sligo 8th August 2013 – Race 208G

1st – Royal Moll

2nd – Rock High Lady

3rd – Dainty Diva

4th – Cara Vic

The case was presented by Denis Egan. Sean Thomas Doyle and Robert Andrew Latta were represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley, Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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