Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Integrity Portal

John McConnell (Trainer) Referral – Identity Query – Fairyhouse 12th December 2020

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Sean Barry (in the chair) Mr. John Murphy and Mr. Peter M. Allen convened at Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday, 7th October 2021 to consider the Referral of John McConnell (Trainer) in relation to the identification of Watermelon Girl which was due to run at Fairyhouse on 12th December 2020.

On the day, the Stewards received a report from Ms. Joan Taylor, IHRB Veterinary Officer, stating that she was unable to positively identify Watermelon Girl from the markings contained in the passport presented for the horse.

The Referrals Committee considered a written submission from Mr. McConnell.

In his submission, Mr. McConnell outlined his own surprise at finding out on the day that the passport held for Watermelon Girl did not pertain to the horse in question. He stated that an internal investigation was carried out immediately which he hoped brought some clarity to the situation. Mr. McConnell outlined that Watermelon Girl, who he believed to be a 2016 Scorpion filly out of Queensland Bay, arrived in his yard via Mr. Pat Glynn on 26th January 2020. Mr. Glynn had purchased the horse as an agent for Mr. Aidan Deveaney in early 2018 from her breeder Mr. Raymond McDonnell. Mr. McConnell said on arrival at his yard his team mistakenly believed this to be the mare as set out in the passport furnished. She commenced training and arrived to run at Fairyhouse on 12th December 2020 and it was at this point they first became aware that the mare was in fact a 2015 Stowaway filly out of Andreas Benefit. Mr. McConnell’s investigation discovered that Mr. McDonnell also owned the Scorpion out of Queensland Bay filly, who is now deceased. When Mr. Glynn purchased the filly he was furnished with the incorrect passport which was a genuine error on the part of the vendor. Mr. Connell stated that he had subsequently purchased a microchip reader and spoken at length to his staff about the importance of cross-checking passports with care and attention.

Having considered the evidence the Referrals Committee were satisfied that Mr. McConnell was in breach of Rule 90(iv) having presented a horse to race where the horse in question was not the horse identified on the passport and not the horse declared to run in the race in question and they imposed a €350 fine. Furthermore, the committee ordered that the name ‘Watermelon Girl’ should now be registered to the 2015 filly by Stowaway (GB) out of Andreas Benefit (IRE).

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

Copyright © 2018, I.H.R.B, All Rights Reserved.