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Brian M. McMahon (Trainer) Referral – Thurles 20th December 2020

The Referrals Committee Ms. Justice Leonie Reynolds (in the chair), Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke, and Mr. N.B. Wachman convened via Zoom on Wednesday, 6th January 2021 to consider the referral of Brian M. McMahon (Trainer) by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, Senior Racing Official, following the fixture at Thurles on 20th December 2020.


Subsequent to the racemeeting at Thurles on Sunday, 20th December 2020, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board were made aware that Mr. McMahon had been in attendance at the Goffs Sales at Yorton Farm in the UK on 17thDecember 2020 and thus not adhered to the Horse Racing Ireland Protocols for race meetings behind closed doors in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, in that he had not adhered to the section of the protocols relating to government guidelines applicable at that time which stated people returning from abroad were required to self-restrict their movements for five days and provide a negative Covid test result before attending an Irish racemeeting Furthermore, to obtain a barcode necessary to attend a racemeeting, Mr. McMahon had falsely completed the Health Screening questionnaire on Saturday, 19th December 2020 when he answered ‘No’ to the question of whether he had travelled abroad in the previous 14 days.


Evidence was heard from Mr. Paul Murtagh (Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee Registrar) and Mr. McMahon, and the Committee considered the transcript of two phone calls between Mr. Murtagh and Mr. McMahon and were provided with the questions and answers that Mr. McMahon submitted to obtain his barcode on 19th December.


In his evidence, Mr. Murtagh outlined details of two phone calls which took place between himself and Mr. McMahon on 24th December 2020. During the phone calls Mr. McMahon eventually accepted that he had attended the sales at Yorton Farm. Mr. Murtagh also stated that he informed Mr. McMahon that  the latest government advice on the day of the phone call had changed resulting in Mr.McMahon being required to  self-isolate for 14 days and that Mr. McMahon agreed to undergo a Covid test at the earliest opportunity and not make any declarations for his horses until that period of 14 days had elapsed.  


In his evidence, Mr. McMahon explained he had attended the sales at Yorton Farm on behalf of a neighbour with the agreement that his neighbour would instead attend the races at Thurles on Mr. McMahon’s behalf. However, the day prior to the races at Thurles, Mr. McMahon was informed by his neighbour that due to unforeseen circumstances  he would be unable to attend the races, at which point Mr. McMahon contacted three other individuals who held a stablepass for him. However, he was unable to obtain raceday help for Thurles and he decided to bring the horse to the races himself. He accepted that this was reckless and completely wrong thing to do and that following all the communication received from the IHRB since the resumption of racing that he should have been more aware of the gravity of the situation. Mr. McMahon concluded by admitting he was deeply embarrassed by the situation, especially given all the hard work that Dr. Jennifer Pugh and her team had undertaken to protect the racing industry during these times and he apologised for his actions.


Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee were satisfied that the conduct of Mr. McMahon was a breach of Rule 272(i) in that he had acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing and 272(ii) as he had provided misleading information to a racing official by falsifying the Health Screening Questionnaire. They fined Mr. McMahon €1,000 and prohibited him from attending any racemeeting under the governance of the IHRB for a period of three months.


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


Dates of Prohibition from attending Irish racecourses: 21st January 2021 – 21st April 2021

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