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Thomas P. O’Connor (Trainer) Referral - Cork, 5th January 2019 and Thurles, 20th January 2019

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Sean Barry, (in the Chair), Mr. Joseph M. McGrath and Mr. Philip Caffrey convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 28th January 2019 to consider the referral of Thomas P. O’Connor, Trainer by the Stewards at Cork on 5th January and at Thurles on 20th January 2019.

On 5th January following the running of the Follow us on Twitter Handicap Chase, the Stewards interviewed Mr. O’Connor concerning the behaviour of Lilshane who refused to start. Having viewed a recording of the incident and considered the evidence, the Stewards referred the matter to the Chief Executive Officer of the IHRB for further investigation. On 20th January following the running of the Racing TV Free Trial Handicap Steeplechase, the Stewards interviewed Mr. O’Connor concerning the conduct of Lilshane who had misbehaved before the start of the race and then ran off the track at an early stage. Having viewed a recording of both incidents and considered the evidence, the Stewards referred the matter to the Referrals Committee under the provisions of Rule 14.

The Referrals Committee viewed the recordings of the two races as well as a recording of Lilshane’s run in the Free Trial at Novice Handicap Chase at Naas on 27th January 2019. They also considered evidence from Mr. O’Connor and written submissions from Shane Pegley, Owner of Lilshane and Niamh Fitzpatrick of Equine Therapies Ireland.

In his evidence Mr. O’Connor referred to the two races under review and outlined why he believed the horse had acted as he did. He described the horse as a bit of a rogue and tricky. He said he had an issue running right handed as he tends to duck left.

Mr. O’Connor said the horse is now receiving therapy from Ms. Fitzpatrick and initial signs are positive. He also said that he had changed the horses training regime. He stated that ideally, he would like the therapist to work on the horse for another 2-3 weeks and if the therapy didn’t work there wasn’t much more that could be done.

With regard to the future Mr. O’Connor undertook that the horse would not run on right handed tracks again and he would try to ensure that the horse would only be ridden by jockeys who are familiar with the horse. He accepted that training and management of the horse was a matter for the trainer and not for the IHRB as a regulatory body to make recommendations regarding same.

Having considered the evidence the Referrals Committee found that the horse had misbehaved and in doing so could have adversely impacted other horses in the race. However, they noted the assurances given by Mr. O’Connor and also that in his most recent run the horse had behaved appropriately.  In view of this they imposed a 30 day suspension on Lilshane to commence on 28th January 2019. They also emphasized to Mr. O’Connor that if there is a reoccurrence of Lilshane’s behavior it was very likely that the horse would be banned. Costs of €200 were awarded to the IHRB.

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

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