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Denis Gerard Hogan (Trainer), James J. Doyle (Rider) and Mr. John O’Shea Referral - Dundalk 20th March 2020

The Referrals Committee, Ms. Justice Siobhan Keegan (chair), Mr. Robert Dore and Mr. Laurence McFerran convened via Zoom on Thursday 9th November 2023 to consider the referral of Denis Gerard Hogan (Trainer), James J. Doyle (Rider) and Mr. John O’Shea, following the running of the Crowne Plaza Dundalk Claiming Race at Dundalk on 20th March 2020. 

The written decision of the Referrals Committee is set out below:

“A Referrals Committee comprising Justice Siobhan Keegan (chair) Mr. Laurence McFerran and Mr. Robert Dore convened on 9th November 2023 by Zoom to consider the matter of a referral pertaining to the Crowne Plaza Dundalk Claiming Race at Dundalk on 20th March 2020. We are grateful for the assistance of all legal representatives involved in this case.

Following a Raceday Steward’s enquiry into the running and riding of the horse Yuften in this race, the matter was referred to the CEO of the IHRB under Rule 14(ii)(b) of the Rules of Racing. This rule provides:

“Where it is not possible for whatever reason for the Raceday Stewards to conduct or conclude an enquiry ,they have power at their discretion to report the matter to a Senior Racing Official who shall have power to investigate the matter and at their discretion to make such referrals as they may deem necessary or the Raceday Stewards may refer the matter to the Referrals Committee who shall decide thereon in accordance with these rules.”

The IHRB served an investigation report on four persons who were alleged to have breached the Rules of Racing in various respects. This report was served on 3rd April 2023. Following completion of the investigation it was the stated position of the IHRB that Yuften, the initial strong market favourite for the race, was deliberately prevented from running on its merits by rider Mr. James J Doyle contrary to Rules 212, 272 and 273 of the Rules of Racing. It was the view of the IHRB that this act was carried out on the instructions of Mr. Denis Gerard Hogan, the trainer of Yuften, contrary to Rule 148, 212, 272 and 273 of the Rules of Racing. Yuften finished second to its stable companion Tony The Gent also trained by Mr. Hogan. It was also alleged that Mr. John O’Shea, a professional gambler, with knowledge of an intended breach of Rule 212(a), backed Yuften to lose the race with a betting organisation using the account of a third party. It was also alleged that Mr. Noel Hayes, an associate of Mr. O’Shea and an owner in the Hogan stable was involved in the conspiracy.

The Referrals Committee was constituted in early June 2023 and confirmed availability for a hearing of the referral on 5 and 6 July 2023.Thereafter the Referrals Committee convened a series of case management hearings by Zoom summarised as follows:

-16th June 2023: directions given for the filing of expert evidence and submissions and dates confirmed.

-23rd June 2023: hearing dates vacated, further directions given for expert evidence and alternative hearing dates offered for August 2023.

-24th August 2023: alternative August 2023 dates (29 August-1 September) vacated, further directions given, and a revised schedule of charges and precis of evidence directed.

-11th September 2023: case against Mr. Noel Hayes discontinued, hearing on 10-11 November confirmed.

Thereafter, on 2nd November 2023 the Referrals Committee received correspondence from IHRB indicating that no evidence would be offered against any of the remaining three persons charged and that this was effectively a case of nolle prosequi. The IHRB issued a public statement later that day. The IHRB also requested the Referrals Committee to issue a decision in the matter. Following from this request the Referrals Committee invited written submissions from all parties and today heard supplementary oral submissions. 

In this context and with the agreement of all parties we will treat today as the hearing of the matter and will deal with the referral as follows:

First, we point out that the Referrals Committee is placed in a highly unusual position having actively case managed this case to hearing to be told that now no evidence will be offered. However, the Referrals Committee can only act within the parameters of Rule 19A of the Rules of Racing which sets out its powers. Rule 19A 6(i) provides that the Referrals Committee shall have the power:

“(i)to decide upon such matters as may be referred to it pursuant to these Rules.”

The matters referred are comprised in the schedule of charges. Without evidence the Referrals Committee cannot adjudicate on the substance of the charges. Hence all charges will simply be dismissed. It is not appropriate for the Referrals Committee to adjudicate on any other matters of detail as to how this matter has been conducted by any party or the wider issues that have been raised at this hearing.

Second, as to costs, the Rules of Racing are asymmetric. Rule 267 is the relevant provision on costs which provides:

“267. Costs and/or expenses incurred by the IHRB in connection with any Appeal, Referral, Enquiry or any other matter in accordance with these Rules, or by the Referrals Committee, the Licensing Committee or the Appeals Body in relation to determining any matter, shall be paid by such person or persons and in such proportions as the Referrals Committee, the Licensing Committee or the Appeals Body may direct. Any deposit which may have been paid may be forfeited as part of the award of costs and expenses.”

The Referrals Committee may only operate within the aforesaid Rules, in this case Rule 267, and so no order as to costs will be made.

Our final comments are these. The Referrals Committee can well understand that the outcome of this case does not answer all questions and is far from satisfactory in circumstances where serious charges were laid. However, the Referrals Committee must act within the Rules of Racing and cannot assume additional functions. To be clear, the Referrals Committee has dismissed all charges which ends this case without any adverse finding against any of those charged. It is for the individuals who have been charged to decide whether to raise any matters arising with the IHRB management or in any other forum. It is for the IHRB to decide whether to comment further on matters given the longevity of this case, the need for transparency and the public interest arising.”

The case was presented by Mr. Remy Farrell S.C and Mr. Frank Crean BL instructed by Ms. Clíodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance. Mr Hogan was represented by Mr. Michael Bowman S.C and Mr. Justin McQuade BL instructed by Mr. Joseph Fitzpatrick of Smithwick Solicitors, Parliament Street, Co. Kilkenny. Mr. Doyle was represented by Mr. Frank Quirke BL, instructed by Mr. Patrick Kennedy of Patrick J. O’Meara Solicitors, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Mr. O’Shea was represented by Mr. Patrick O’Shea BL, instructed by Mr. John Dunne of John Dunne & Co. Solicitors, Dame Street, Co. Dublin.

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