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Adrian McGuinness (Trainer) Referral – Stable Inspection 4th June 2014


The Referrals Committee, Justice Tony Hunt, (in the chair), Philip Caffrey and Philip McLernon met at the Turf Club, Curragh, Co. Kildare on Tuesday, 26th September 2017 to consider whether or not, Adrian McGuinness, Trainer, was in breach of any rules following a stable inspection carried out at his Training Establishment on 4th June 2014 by Turf Club officials Chris Gordon, Head of Security in conjunction with Authorised Agents of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine (DAFM) , and his subsequent conviction in court in relation to a number of substances found during the visit.

The substances found were Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) NeogenVet 5000 mcg, Anased and Vita 15 NeogenVet, none of which are authorised Animal Remedies. In addition, Colvasone, Phenylarthrite, Pro Dynam and Diurazone were present without a prescription; this is medication which can only be used under the prescription of a veterinary surgeon. Also Mr. McGuinness admitted to administering equine influenza vaccinations himself.

The matter was referred to the Referrals Committee for further consideration following the conclusion of a court hearing on 22nd February 2016.

The Referrals Committee were asked to consider whether or not Adrian McGuinness was in breach of the following specific Rules:
1. Breach of Rule 91(i) for administration of vaccinations by a person other than a Veterinary Surgeon.
2. Breach of Rule 272(i) for acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing as a result of having the medications in his yard in contravention of legislation and being convicted in court for doing so.

At the outset, the committee noted that Adrian McGuinness had accepted that he was in breach of the above rules.

Evidence was heard from Declan Buckley, Turf Club Deputy Head of Security, Dr. Lynn Hillyer, Turf Club Chief Veterinary Officer and Head of Anti-Doping, Vincent O’Connor M.R.C.V.S., Adrian McGuinness and Noel Meade, Chairman of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association.

In his evidence, Declan Buckley said that Mr. McGuinness was fully co-operative during an interview and that he outlined how he administered vaccinations to horses on arrival in his yard which he had received from a local veterinary practice, and that the local practice subsequently certified the passports – a claim denied by the practice concerned.

Mr. Buckley said that Mr. McGuinness told him that he got some of the unauthorised product from Northern Ireland and other product from a travelling salesman. He said that Mr. McGuinness had confirmed that this product was only for emergency use.

In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer split the products found at Mr. McGuinness’s Training Establishment as unauthorised animal remedies and medication which can only be used if it is prescribed. She outlined the properties of each substance and what they are used for.

With regard to the subsequent updating of passports by a veterinary practice, she said that this can only occur if there is a veterinary cert to confirm that the vaccinations were given by a veterinary surgeon in the first place. She said it is wrong for a trainer to administer vaccinations.

In response to a question from Frank Crean B.L., Dr. Hillyer accepted that the subsequent laboratory tests had confirmed that all horses were vaccinated.

In his evidence, Vincent O’Connor M.R.C.V.S. outlined the uses of the substances found and noted that other authorised forms of the substances are used on a daily basis by veterinary surgeons. He said that the culture of trainers storing medicines on site has changed significantly since 2014 and since then trainers keep very little in their medicines unit. He attributed this to the increased level of inspections by Turf Club and DAFM inspections.

In his evidence, Adrian McGuinness accepted that he was in possession of unauthorised animal remedies and medicines without prescriptions. He apologised for what had occurred. He accepted that he should not have administered the vaccinations himself and confirmed that he doesn’t have any medicines in his yard now. He confirmed that he had got the vaccinations from the local veterinary clinic. He also said that he will not take a horse into his yard now unless the horse is correctly vaccinated.

Mr. McGuinness outlined how the court case had affected his business and the impact that any licence suspension would have on him. He said he accepted that the Rules of Racing had to be complied with and noted that he never had a horse test positive for a prohibited substance.

In his evidence, Noel Meade gave a character reference for Mr. McGuinness. He also referred to the changes that had taken place with trainers since the Fenton/Hughes cases in 2014 and as a result of tightening up by the Turf Club and the DAFM inspections. Mr. Meade accepted that the publicity surrounding Mr. McGuinness’s court case was negative for the industry but felt that the substances found were at the lower end of the scale.

In general terms, Mr. Meade said he was not aware of there being a widespread problem of trainers administering vaccinations themselves. He also accepted that it was not advisable to be buying veterinary product from travelling shops.

Frank Crean B.L. made a number of closing submissions on behalf of Mr. McGuinness and Cliodhna Guy made submissions on behalf of the Turf Club.

Having considered the submissions and the evidence, the Referrals Committee noted that Adrian McGuinness had accepted he was in breach of the relevant rules. They said that any penalty must be appropriate for the offence taking into account the mitigating factors such as the way the defendant approached the matter and his personal circumstances.

In relation to the offence itself, they felt that it was a middle range offence which would normally attract a licence suspension of two years. What occurred was damaging to the good reputation of racing as a licensed trainer had been convicted in the District Court with the resulting publicity.

The committee noted that there has been a significant change in culture in the past three years with regard to how trainers deal with medication. With regard to Mr. McGuinness, the committee noted that the probable consequences of the loss of his licence would be catastrophic. They also noted that the substances found were not prohibited at all times substances, that Mr. McGuinness had a clean record, that there was a guilty plea and that he volunteered certain information.

Taking all the above into account, the committee imposed a penalty of a two year suspension of Mr. McGuinness’s licence which will not be activated provided Mr. McGuinness does not breach similar rules in the next two years. Mr. McGuinness accepted the penalty and agreed that the penalty can be imposed together with any other penalty which may apply for any new offence if he breaches similar rules within the relevant period. He was also ordered to pay costs of €1,000.

The committee asked that it be noted that if similar facts arise in the future, it is highly unlikely that a suspended penalty would arise. The facts of this case relate to a particular culture which existed at the time and it has been treated accordingly.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Solicitor, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance. Adrian McGuinness was represented by Frank Crean B.L. instructed by Kevin Power, Maurice Power, Solicitors, Killmallock, Co. Limerick.

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