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Shane Duffy (Trainer) / Hayzoom Referral

The Referrals Committee Judge Tony Hunt (in the chair), Hugh M. Ferguson and Sean Barry met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 17th December 2012, to consider the referral of Shane Duffy, trainer, and Hayzoom by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club, as a result of a random inspection carried out at Mr. Duffy’s yard on 17th September 2012, when Hayzoom, which had been returned in training by him on 13th September 2012, was not at his premises.  Denis Egan also asked the Referrals Committee to consider whether or not Shane Duffy was in breach of any rule as a result of entering Hayzoom in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle at Listowel on 22nd September 2012, when he knew or ought to have known that the horse was ineligible to be entered or to start for any race, as the animal had run at an unrecognised meeting.

Evidence was heard from Michael O’Donoghue, Turf Club Racing Official, and Shane Duffy.

In his evidence Michael O’Donoghue said he carried out an inspection at Shane Duffy’s yard on 17th September 2012 along with Ray Bergin (Turf Club Official).  Hayzoom was not at the yard when they called even though the horse had been returned in training by Shane Duffy on 13th September 2012.  Mr. O’Donoghue subsequently met Mr. Duffy, who confirmed that he had purchased Hayzoom some days earlier. However, he said Mr. Duffy told him that he had not taken delivery of the horse until that morning, when he met with the horse’s previous owners, who handed the horse over to him on the roadside, near Roscrea.  Mr. O’Donoghue said that he subsequently interviewed Shane Duffy and another person at Mr. Duffy’s house about Hayzoom and the horse’s history.  Mr. O’Donoghue said that Mr. Duffy was of the view that he wasn’t responsible for anything the horse may have done prior to coming under his care.  He said that Mr. Duffy had accepted that he had bought the horse for €1,000 from men he described as “being involved in flapping” but he didn’t know for definite that the horse had taken part in unrecognised meetings, even though he accepted that numerous people had told him that the horse had taken part in flappers.

In his evidence, Shane Duffy confirmed much of the evidence given by Michael O’Donoghue. He said he entered the horse at Listowel to get a handicap mark for the animal.  He further stated that he did not know the horse had been flapping even though the horse was bought from pony racing men.  He accepted that the horse was never under his care in advance of the inspection at his yard.

Having considered the evidence, the committee found that Shane Duffy was in breach of Rule 272 in respect of:
(i) returning Hayzoom in training on 13th September 2012 when the horse was not under his care, and
(ii) entering Hayzoom for Race 258F at Listowel when the horse was not under his care, and when he ought to have known that the horse was ineligible to be entered or to start for any race, as he had run at an unrecognised meeting.

The Committee accepted that much of what occurred was due to Shane Duffy’s negligence rather than anything more serious.  They accepted that he had learned a salutary lesson but that ignorance of the rules was not a valid excuse for what had occurred.

In arriving at the level of penalty, the Committee considered the background to the case as well as Mr. Duffy’s personal circumstances.  They also noted that the fines imposed in this case should not be taken as a precedent for other cases, being dependent on the particular circumstances of this case.  The Committee noted that under the Rules trainers were not entitled to ignore suspicions or knowledge that an animal in their care had previously run at an unrecognised meeting.  Taking all factors into account the Committee imposed a fine of €500 in respect of each finding (total fine €1,000).  They also ordered that Mr. Duffy pay a contribution of €500 towards Turf Club costs.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Solicitor, Naas, Co. Kildare. Shane Duffy was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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