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Brian McMahon (Trainer) and Mr. E Mahon (Rider) Appeal – Thurles 25th November 2021

The Appeals Body (Division 1), Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly (in the chair), Mr. John Murphy and Mr. M.C. Hickey convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on 11th January 2022 to consider the appeal of Brian McMahon (Trainer) and Mr. Eoin Mahon (Rider) against the decision of the Referrals Committee which convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on 21st December 2021 to fine Mr. McMahon €6,000, suspend Mr. Mahon for 21 racedays and Longhouse Force for 90 days.  

On the day, the Referrals Committee found Mr. McMahon and Mr. Mahon in breach of Rule 212A(i) in that Longhouse Force was deliberately or recklessly run other than on its merits, and 212A(ii) in that Longhouse Force, 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. McMahon and Mr. Mahon were that the Referrals Committee erred in their decision.

At the Appeal Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. McMahon and Mr. Mahon and an independent veterinary report was considered. The panel also viewed a recording of the race.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body found Mr. McMahon and Mr. Mahon in breach of Rule 212A(ii) in that Longhouse Force was not seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the Horse, timely, real and substantial efforts to obtain the best possible place. They imposed a fine of €3,000 on Mr. McMahon, suspended Mr. Mahon for 12 racedays and suspended Longhouse Force for 42 days.

The Appeals Body issued their written decisions to both parties on 14th January 2022 which is set out below. 

“This is a statement of reasons of the Appeals Body for its decision, given on 11 January 2022 on the two appeals brought by the trainer and rider of the horse, Longhouse Force, from the decision of the Referrals Committee of 21st December 2021 finding them to have committed breaches of the Rule 212A (i) and (ii) in respect of the running and riding of that horse at Thurles on 25th November 2021.

Longhouse Force was one of eleven runners in the Betvictor Maiden Hurdle. He was trained by Mr Brian M McMahon and ridden by Mr. Eoin Mahon. It was his third run. He finished sixth in the race. Mr McMahon was not present at the racecourse but was represented by Mr John Staunton.

The Stewards decided following the race to hold an inquiry into the running and riding of Longhouse Force. They heard evidence from Mr Staunton and Mr Mahon. Mr Staunton said that the horse had gurgled in his two previous runs at Cork and Ballinrobe the previous July. Mr Mahon, who had not ridden the horse at Cork or Ballinrobe, said that he had gurgled during the Thurles race in question. This fact had not been reported by either the trainer or the rider prior to this inquiry (a breach of the provisions of Rule 213.) Mr Mahon maintains that he learned of the Stewards’ inquiry at the moment of his weighing in.

The horse was examined post race by the IHRB Veterinary Officer on the day. She reported to the Stewards that Longhouse Force was clinically abnormal. So, on the day she found that the horse had a heart murmur.


The Stewards decided to refer the matter to the Referrals Committee for further consideration.

The Referrals Committee hearing took place at the Curragh on 21st December 2021. The Committee heard the evidence of Mr McMahon and Mr Mahon. They were not legally represented.

The Board invited the Referrals Committee to consider two possible breaches of Rule 213 in respect of failure to report gurgling in his two previous two runs and possible breaches of Rule 212 at Thurles.

The Referrals Committee heard the evidence of Mr Mahon which was to the effect that, from in or about the fourth last hurdle, the horse made a noise which was variously described as a loud. respiratory or gurgling noise and even as “roaring.”

Mr McMahon apologised for his failure to report that Longhouse Force had gurgled in his previous two races. He said that the matter had slipped his mind. He relied on the fact that he had had two horses in the race on each occasion. He accepted his responsibility for the breach of the Rules. Mr Mahon had not ridden the horse in either of his previous runs. Insofar as the Thurles run was concerned, Mr Mahon was technically in breach of the rule for not reporting between coming to weigh in and the Steward hearing, where he did report.

Mr McMahon said that his instructions to the rider were that he should get the horse settled and finish as close as he could: the owner wanted to see some improvement from his previous form which had been disappointing. He said that Mr Mahon, the rider, had had a difficult decision to make as the horse was making a noise from the fourth last hurdle, and that he had been trying to hold onto him for a strong late finish. Mr Mahon confirmed these were his instructions. The horse had started to gurgle from the fourth last. He accepted that he had not been at his strongest in the closing stages, but he suggested that he regretted that he had not pulled the horse up due to the noise he was making.

The Referrals Committee watched the videos of the race and heard the evidence of Mr McMahon and Mr Mahon. The Committee came to the conclusion that both were in breach of Rules 212A(i) and (ii).  

Having given consideration to the previous records of both, they decided to fine Mr McMahon €6000, to suspend Mr Mahon from riding for 21 days and to suspend Longhouse Force from running, i.e., “restricted from participating in any race” for a period of 90 days pursuant to Rule 212C(d).

Both Mr McMahon and Mr Mahon have appealed against the decision of the Referrals Committee. Both contend, in their notices of appeal, that the Committee “arrived at the wrong conclusion.”

Both Mr McMahon and Mr Mahon were represented at the appeal hearing by Senior Counsel. The Appeals Body heard their evidence as well as the evidence, via video link of the very well-known former jockey, Mr Barry Geraghty. It also received a written statement of another rider, who had ridden in the race and said that he had heard Longhouse Force make a “loud respiratory noise when coming past me between the second last and the last hurdle.”

The Appeal Body had the benefit of a video film of the race from different angles. It viewed this, during the hearing of the Appeal on a significant number of occasions. The principal emphasis was on the contention that the loud respiratory noise made by the horse presented Mr Mahon with a dilemma. Mr Mahon suggested that he might, in the interests of the horse’s welfare, have been better to have pulled him up. On the evidence of the video film, the Appeals Body is satisfied that the horse ran on well in the closing stages of the race, passing a number of other horses. He certainly improved his position from the entry into the straight. Mr McMahon contended that these horses were stopping. Longhouse Force showed no obvious signs of distress. The Appeals Body has to make judgment on the entirety of the evidence.

Having considered the entire matter and applying the test of the “balance of probabilities,” laid down by Rule 271, the Appeals Body has come to the following conclusion. The horse, Longhouse Force, was not “seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the Horse, timely, real and substantial efforts to obtain the best possible place………….”. Thus there was a breach of Rule 212A(ii). The Appeals Body does not find that Mr McMahon or Mr Mahon deliberately or recklessly caused or permitted the horse to run other than on its merits, which would be required for a finding under Rule 212A(i).

Having pronounced its decision, the Appeals Body gave both sides the opportunity to make submissions on penalty. Following those representations, it decided to vary the penalties as follows:

  • The fine imposed on Mr McMahon is reduced to €3,000;
  • The disqualification of Longhouse Force is reduced to 42 days;
  • Mr Mahon’s suspension from riding is for 12 days, to date from 12 January 2022.

Following further submissions, the Appeals Body decided to forfeit half of the appeal deposit for costs in each case.


The case was presented by Mr. Michael Daly, IHRB Regulatory Legal Advisor and Mr. Colman Sweeney, IHRB Stipendiary Steward and Mr. McMahon and Mr. Mahon were represented by Mr. Stephen Lanigan O’Keeffe, S.C.


Date Of Suspension for Mr. Mahon – 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th 30th, 31st January, 1st and 5thFebruary.

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