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Daniel Dunne (Authorised Representative) Appeal – Cork 3rd April 2021

The Appeals Body (Division 1), Ms. Susan Ahern BL, (in the chair), Ms. Mary M. O’Connor and Mr. Jack Rearden convened in the Offices at the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Wednesday, 22nd September 2021 to consider the appeal of Mr. Daniel Dunne (Groom) against the severity of the sanction imposed by the Referrals Committee issued on 14th May 2021.

In the decision issued, the Referrals Committee found that Mr. Dunne was in breach of Rule 272 (i) and Rule 272(iii) and they disqualified him for a period of six months, the final three months of which were suspended for a period of 12 months.  

The grounds of appeal lodged by Mr. Dunne was the severity of the sanction imposed. 

At the Appeal, submissions were made by Mr. Dunne and by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, on behalf of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

The Appeals Body issued an oral decision on the day and issued their full detailed written judgement, which is attached to this press release, on 4th October.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body were satisfied that a disqualification is warranted as against Mr. Dunne for a period of six months, however the Appeals Body has determined to suspend the final five months for a period of 24 months on the basis that Mr. Dunne conducts himself in an appropriate manner towards all IHRB officials during that period. Should Mr. Dunne fail to do so, he will be disqualified for that further five-month period, in addition to any further sanction that will flow from such further breaches.

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


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In the matter of the Appeal by Mr. Daniel Dunne (Authorised Representative) of Ms. Katy Brown (Licensed Trainer) of the Decision of the Referrals Committee of 21 April 2021.


Appeals Body Members:           Ms. Susan Ahern (in the Chair)

                                                Ms. Mary O’Connor

                                                Mr. Jack Rearden

Parties:                                     Mr. Daniel Dunne (the “Appellant”) AND

                                                Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (“IHRB” or the “Respondent”)

Represented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Licensing, Legal & Compliance.

In attendance:                          Mr. Niall Cronin, IHRB Communications Manager

Hearing: Held at the offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (“IHRB”) on 21 September 2021.


  1. The Appellant brings this appeal in respect of the decision of the Referrals Committee of 14 May 2021 which related to an incident which arose in Cork on 3 April 2021. The incident in question concerning the Appellants behaviour on that date towards Ms. N. O’Connor, MVB Veterinary Officer and at the enquiry in the Stewards Room thereafter when the Appellant departed the room prior to the conclusion of the enquiry (the “Decision”).
  2. The Appeals Body was appointed by the IHRB in September 2021, to consider the appeal once certain procedural matters had been addressed as between the Appellant and IHRB.
  3. The facts and circumstances in relation to the incident in Cork which precipitated the referral are well set out in the decision of the Referrals Committee and are not repeated in this decision, save to the extent necessary to explain the rationale of the Appeal Body.
  4. Katy Brown, who is the Licensed Trainer and for whom Mr. Dunne is her Authorised Representative, was not a party to the appeal and did not attend the hearing.


Relevant Rules

  1. A full pack of documentation was provided to the Appeal Body and Mr. Dunne. This comprised the Appeal Form, Press Release of the Referral Committee Decision, Transcript of the Referral Hearing of 21 April 2021 and all of the documentation which was put before the Referral Hearing.
  2. Dunne was originally charged under Rule 272 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules 2020 (applicable at the time of the incident). The Referrals Committee found that it was satisfied that the Appellant had breached Rule 272(I) and 272 (III) which provide:

272. Any person involved in horseracing who, within the jurisdiction of the IHRB;

  • whether verbally or by conduct or behaviour, acts in a manner which is prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing (whether or not such behaviour or conduct, verbal or otherwise is associated directly with horseracing); or
  • ( … )
  • abuses, misleads, intimidates, threatens or interferes with any person including any Official involved with the administration or the control of racing

shall be in breach of these Rules and liable to sanction.”

  1. The appeal of the Decision was submitted in due time.


The Hearing

  1. At the outset of the hearing Mr. Dunne, who was not represented either by counsel or by another representative, confirmed that he was aware of his right to representation, had been so advised by the IHRB and had taken the decision to represent himself. He was attending to give his account of the events of 3 April 2021, address certain concerns he had in relation to the hearing on 21 April 2021 and in particular address the impact the sanctions imposed by the Decision would have upon him.
  2. Counsel for the IHRB set out the background to the appeal, the grounds of appeal and clarified that the sanctions imposed had been suspended pending the appeal hearing.
  3. The Appeals Committee clarified with the Appellant at the outset his grounds of appeal. It was confirmed that the appeal was confined to contesting the severity of the sanction imposed, namely Mr. Dunne’s disqualification pursuant to Rule 276 and certain procedural matters at the hearing which he considered were unfair.
  4. The Appeals Committee confirmed that it would conduct the appeal in accordance with Rule 256 on the basis of the transcript of the Referrals Committee Hearing and that its function is to review the evidence that was before that Committee. This was accepted by Mr. Dunne.
  5. Dunne addressed the wide scope of his disqualification under Rule 276 and noted in particular the impact of a ‘Disqualified Person’ finding as it related to his work. Namely that it would include being unable to act as an Authorised Representative (R276(ii)), to train a horse for any race at a Recognised Meeting (R276(iii)), to enter any Racecourse, Stand or Enclosure (R276(v)) or be employed in any capacity by a Trainer, unless permission to do so was granted by the Directors of the IHRB (R276(vi)).
  6. Dunne gave a clear account of the impact the Decision to render him a ‘Disqualified Person’ would have upon himself and the stable yard of Ms. Brown (the “Yard”), who in addition to being the Licensed Trainer he represents, is also his life partner. He explained that;
    1. since the publication of the Decision, the number of horses in the Yard had been reduced by owners removing their horses, with a loss of 8 in total leaving the Yard with 10 horses of which 6 were fee paying;
    2. that two of their usual jockeys had taken up roles with other yards and now they only have one jockey who attends to ride out the horses daily;
    3. only Ms. Brown and Mr. Dunne run the Yard now with limited intermittent assistance. If Mr. Dunne is prevented from assisting at the Yard due to disqualification, there were two likely consequences he presented, first that Ms. Brown could not take the horses to meetings alone and secondly, there would not be sufficient income to keep the Yard going and it will have to close; and
    4. he lives and works at the Yard and if disqualified he would not be able to continue to do so, with all the personal implications that such a situation would result in.
  7. Counsel for the IHRB addressed the Appeals Body’s queries in relation to the scope of Rule 276 and in particular part (vi), noting that Mr. Dunne had not made any request to the IHRB following the Decision for any specific permissions relating to his representative relationship with his trainer Ms. Brown.
  8. Guy also addressed in some detail the importance of preserving the good name and reputation of horseracing and those persons who are employed or involved in it. In particular she emphasized that verbal abuse of staff was not acceptable and the need for the IHRB to address misconduct under Rule 272 and for appropriate sanctions to be applied where breaches are found, as in this case.
  9. The allocated roles of the various vets at the track (i.e., racecourse vets (start & finish) and IHRB vet) were not factors Mr. Dunne took into account on the day of the incident. Rather, he placed emphasis upon the fact that it was concern for the Yard’s horse which had been kicked while in the start gate, reviewed by the start vet and allowed to run that was at the core of the Cork incident.
  10. Dunne did not resile from the admissions he made in that regard during the Referral Committee Hearing and he stood by the apologies he made at the opening of the Referrals Committee Hearing. It was apparent at the appeal hearing that Mr. Dunne continues to regret his behaviour.
  11. Dunne explained to the Appeals Body the impact that each event in the series of events that lead to the engagement with Ms. O’Connor and subsequently in the Stewards Room had had upon him. The frustration at not being listened to, the desire to have his horse looked at by a vet, the delay in the horse being reviewed, which were reflected in the language that he utilised on the day. He submitted that with the benefit of hindsight, he better comprehends that his behaviour was not appropriate and that his perspective of it being just “an argument” was not shared. However, he also submitted that the sanction was not in his view proportionate and not comparable to a recent case in the UK where a fine of £1,000 was imposed in similar circumstances (Trainer David Flood).



  1. The determination of the Referrals Committee with regard to the breaches of Rule 272(i) and (iii) stand and indeed were at all times accepted by Mr. Dunne.
  2. Dunne has accepted that his behaviour in Cork on 3 April 2021 was unacceptable. He apologised at the Referrals Committee Hearing and again during the Appeals Body Hearing. It was clear to the Appeals Body that Mr. Dunne has his horses and the Yard at the forefront of his mind and is committed to doing the best for the Yard’s horses.
  3. In considering the question of the appropriateness of the sanction the Appeals Body had regard to all of the circumstances and the particular factors which the Referrals Committee considered as outlined in paragraph 5 of their Decision which are set out below for ease:

1)   the complete lack of respect shown to Ms. O’Connor in terms of verbal abuse and use of vile language,

2)    the understandable distress caused to Ms. O’Connor arising from her interactions with Mr. Dunne,

3)    the wholly impermissible and insulting behaviour towards the Chairman and acting Stewards,

4)    the complete lack of cooperation with the Stewards in their efforts to conduct an enquiry into Ms. O’Connor’s complaint,

5)    the previous warning issued to Mr. Dunne following a prior breach of Rule 272 arising from verbal abuse to stable yard security staff in 2018,

6)    Mr. Dunne’s failure to comprehend what is required of him in terms of his conduct and behaviour as Authorised Representative for Ms. Brown.

7)    the necessity to ensure that the sanction to be imposed must deter this type of behaviour.

By way of mitigation, the Committee accepts that Mr. Dunne has shown some degree of remorse although it clear that he has limited insight into the seriousness of these matters and has difficulty in maintaining his composure.”

  1. The Appeals Body were presented with an individual who was in control of his emotions, presented his case frankly and who had evidently learned a salutary lesson from the Cork incident and subsequent hearing process. Mr. Dunne had with the effluxion of time, gained a large degree of insight into his behaviour, he was aware that he lost his composure and the impact this had on Ms. O’Connor and the Stewards. He demonstrated to the Appeals Body that he now understands what constitutes appropriate behaviour for a person who is an Authorised Representative and bound by the Rules of Racing and that there are consequences where the parameters of behaviour are not met.
  2. Added to this, there were a number of factors outlined to the Appeals Body which were not put before the Referrals Committee which are of relevance to the question of sanction. At the time of the incident Mr. Dunne was also living through a personal family trauma which in his own words ‘messed with his head’. This matter was described to the Appeals Body who were persuaded of its veracity and who took cognisance of its likely impact upon Mr. Dunne.
  3. In addition, the Appeals Body had the opportunity to hear in considerable detail the impact that the imposed sanction would have upon the Appellant, as described in paragraph 13 above. This information was not before the Referrals Committee.
  4. Taking into account the need for proportionality in sanctions the Appeals body were minded in all the circumstances of this case and with the benefit of the additional information which constituted further mitigating factors, to review the sanction originally imposed.
  5. In the circumstances, the Appeals Body considered that the actions of Mr. Dunne were sufficiently serious to warrant a disqualification under Rule 276 for a period of six months. However, the Appeals Body has determined to suspend the final five months, for a period of twenty-four months, on the basis that Mr. Dunne conducts himself in an appropriate manner during that period towards all IHRB officials and that there is no further breach of Rule 272. Should he fail to do so, he will be disqualified for that further five-month period, in addition to any further sanction that will flow from any such further breach. For completeness, the disqualification shall not interfere with Mr. Dunne’s normal residential arrangements at the Yard and/or its environs.
  6. The commencement date for the disqualification will be 4 October 2021.
  7. The appeal fee shall be retained by the IHRB.


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