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Lee Smyth (Trainer) & David Laverty (Owner) Referral

 Lee Smyth (Trainer) & David Laverty (Owner) Referral

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke (in the chair), Mr. Noel McCaffrey and Mr. N. B. Wachman convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday 8th December 2022 to consider an investigation, report and associated documentation arising from a complaint of Mr. Mark Seager, Veterinary Surgeon, regarding the authenticity of stamps and signatures purporting to be his and observed by him, whilst vetting horses for sales in November 2018, on the passports of two horses, namely Wowsham (2015 Bay Gelding) and Ty Rock Brandy (2015 Bay Filly).

At the Referral Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. David Laverty, Owner of Ty Rock Brandy and Wowsham, Dr. Lynn Hillyer, Chief Veterinary Officer, and Mr. Declan Buckley, IHRB Deputy Head of Security. The panel also considered written evidence from Mr. Mark Seager, MRCVS and a Technical Report from Mr. Michael Moore, Forensic DocExam Ireland Limited.

Submissions were made by counsel on behalf of Mr Smyth.

Dr. Lynn Hillyer outlined the significance of Equine Influenza Vaccination certification in relation to the individual horse, the herd, and the wider horseracing industry specifically in terms of equine health and welfare and reputational risk. Dr. Hillyer then explained to the panel how the IHRB operated their regulatory checks for vaccination certification at the relevant time.

Mr Declan Buckley gave evidence of the investigation of the complaint made by Mr. Mark Seager and the subsequent investigation report.

In his evidence, Mr. David Laverty outlined to the committee that Wowsham and Ty Rock Brandy had been in training between September 2016 and October 2018 with Mr. Lee Smyth. Mr. Laverty stated that at all times the passports of the two horses were in the care of Mr. Smyth

Having considered the evidence, Justice Groarke delivered the following decision on behalf of the Referrals Committee:

“The charges against Mr Laverty are prefaced on the proof that Mr Laverty had possession of the passports of each of the horses. In the absence of evidence to establish those allegations the charges against Mr Laverty must fail. The committee find that there is no evidence in this case that Mr Laverty at any time during the relevant period had possession of those passports and in those circumstances all charges against Mr Laverty must fail and we so order.

I move to deal with Mr Smyth. Rule 148 of the rules says that a trainer shall be responsible except where otherwise provided in these rules for everything connected with the welfare, training and running of all horses under the care of that trainer and shall be liable to any sanction available to the Stewards etc unless the trainer provides a satisfactory explanation.

Rule 90 (vii) under the title Equine Influenza Vaccinations which is what we are concerned about here, states:  It shall be a breach of these rules for any horse to enter racecourse property on a designated

raceday unless the trainer has available for inspection by the IHRB Veterinary Officer or a Veterinary Officer assistant a valid passport and vaccination certificate endorsed in accordance with rule 91 by a Veterinary surgeon or a by a recognised Turf Authority stating that the horse has received the vaccinations required under this rule. We find that there has been a breach of this rule.

There is a charge under rule 148 in respect of inadequate supervision of the horses and we do not find that this charge is proven.

It is accepted by Mr Smyth that the entries on the passport of Wowsham on the 1st March 2018 and of Ty Rock Brandy on the 5th February 2018 each certifying the vaccination of the respective horses were forgeries. In so far as regulation 8 A 1 requires that the passports must always accompany the horses and in so far as that there is no evidence that either the horses or the passports were other than in Mr Smyths custody at all relevant times, the committee conclude that Mr Smyth caused, permitted or facilitated a making of a false entry on the passports to wit the said forged certifications. Consequently, we find Mr Smyth in breach of Rule 272 (i) in that he conducted his training and running of Wowsham and Ty Rock Brandy in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing in Ireland.

We further find Mr Smyth in breach of Rule 272 (ii) in that by presenting the said passports for inspection he knowingly supplied misleading information to raceday veterinary officials on the following dates:


  1. 27th July 2018 - Down Royal racecourse
  2. 8th August 2018- Sligo racecourse

Ty Rock Brandy

  1. 8th June 2018 - Curragh racecourse
  2. 21st September 2018 - Dundalk racecourse

We further find Mr Smyth in breach of Rule 273 (iv) in that he entered or caused to be entered, and/or started for a race, horses which he knew should have known to be ineligible to be entered to run by entering and running Wowsham and Ty Rock Brandy as follows:


  1. 27th July 2018 - Down Royal racecourse
  2. 8th August 2018 - Sligo racecourse 

Ty Rock Brandy

  1. 16th February 2018 - Dundalk racecourse
  2. 16th March 2018 - Dundalk racecourse
  3. 8th June 2018 - Curragh racecourse
  4. 21st September 2018 - Dundalk racecourse

We also find Mr Smyth in breach of Rule 273 (vii) in that he engaged in corrupt or fraudulent practices in relation to racing in Ireland by making or allowing another person to make a false entry into the passports of Wowsham and Ty Rock Brandy on a date prior to the presentation of the said passports as here to fore set out.

Finally, we find Mr Smyth in breach of 273 (xiii) in that he caused, permitted or facilitated the making of false entries on the passports of Wowsham and Ty Rock Brandy, namely the false certification of vaccinations, and in presenting those passports to raceday veterinary officials and in doing such acts has acted in a manner likely to cause serious damage to the interests of horse racing in Ireland.”

In arriving at sanction Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke outlined the seriousness of this issue, stating that it undermined one of the most important biosecurity activities of the IHRB to safeguard the racing industry in this country, which requires a thorough and professional application of veterinary standards to ensure the continuation of horse racing even in the most difficult circumstances. Justice Groarke added that such a serious breach of these Rules effectively amounts to an attack on the efforts of the IHRB, trainers and owners to ensure that equine influenza does not overcome the racing industry.

In mitigation for Mr. Smyth, Justice Groarke took into account that he had no previous serious misconduct and that his was a small family-run training establishment.

In relation to the breaches, the Committee suspended Mr. Smyth’s licence for a period of 3 months (22nd December 2022 - 16th March 2023), fined him €6,000 and ordered that he contribute €4,000 towards the IHRB’s costs. Furthermore the Committee disqualified Wowsham and Ty Rock Brandy from the following races:


  1. 27th July 2018 - Down Royal racecourse - Race 7
  2. 8th August 2018 - Sligo racecourse - Race 7

Ty Rock Brandy

  1. 16th February 2018 - Dundalk racecourse - Race 1
  2. 16th March 2018 - Dundalk racecourse - Race 1
  3. 21st September 2018 - Dundalk racecourse - Race 1

Addressing the suspension period of 3 months, Justice Groarke pointed out that there were extenuating circumstances, including the four-year duration of the investigation. However, he stated that any future similar breaches by trainers should lead to severe sanctions including a considerably longer period of suspension.

The case was presented by Ms Bebhinn Murphy BL and Michael Daly, IHRB Regulatory Legal Advisor.

Mr. Smyth was represented by Mr James O’Brien BL instructed by James A Boyle & Co Solicitors, Kildare.

Mr. Laverty was represented by Mr Robert McCausland BL instructed by Quigg Golden Solicitors LLP, Dublin.

For further information, please contact:                           

Jennifer Walsh.

Phone: 087 2528025                            


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