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Thomas P. O'Connor (Restricted Trainer) Referral - Random Stable Inspection 3 August 2015


The Referrals Committee, Sean Barry (in the Chair), Peter N. Reynolds and N.B. Wachman met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Friday, 9th October 2015, to consider whether or not Thomas P. O’Connor, Restricted Trainer, was in breach of any rules as a result of a random stable inspection carried out at his Training Establishment on 3rd August 2015 by Turf Club officials Michael O’Donoghue and Nicola O’Connor, MVB

During the inspection they found a number of anomalies including:-
i) The stabling of racing ponies at his Training Establishment belonging to a third party.
ii) The non availability of passports
iii) The Turf Club Medicines Register was unavailable for inspection
iv) The non display of Stable Employee Bonus Scheme (SEBS) payment in a work area

The matter was referred to the Referrals Committee by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.

Evidence was heard from Michael O’Donoghue, Nicola O’Connor MVB and Thomas P. O’Connor. The Committee also considered a written report on the visit which was completed by Michael O’Donoghue and Nicola O’Connor MVB

In his evidence Michael O’Donoghue referred to the anomalies which had been detailed in the report submitted to the Committee. He said Mr O’Connor was not present when they arrived to inspect his Training Establishment but a family member contacted him in Limerick and agreed the inspection could take place in his absence.

Michael O’Donoghue said they were unaware that there was a lease agreement in place with a third party for the renting of a separate area of the stables. He said this area was occupied by a number of racing ponies. Mr O’Donoghue said the passports and Medicines Register were not available as they were locked in Mr O’Connor’s house. Mr O’Donoghue also referred to the Stable Employee Bonus Scheme payment which was not on display in a work area.

Mr O’Donoghue told the Committee that both he and Nicola O’Connor MVB microchipped all horses present and verified the numbers subsequently. He confirmed that the passports were inspected during a previous inspection when Mr O’Connor was present.

In her evidence Nicola O’Connor MVB confirmed that the passports and Medicines Register were unavailable. She also confirmed that a number of horses were microchipped and referred to a number of other matters which needed to be addressed by Mr O’Connor. She said she was unable to determine whether any horses had received medication due to the absence of the Medicines Register.

In response to a question from the Committee, Nicola O’Connor MVB said it was the first time they were unable to access passports and a Medicines Register during a random stable inspection and confirmed the passports were kept in Mr O’Connor’s house during a previous yard inspection.

In his evidence Thomas P. O’Connor confirmed that the passports and Medicines Register were kept in his house. On the morning of the inspection, Mr O’Connor said he did not speak to his daughter when she phoned as he was ill. He said his daughter spoke to her mother who confirmed it was in order for the inspection to proceed. Mr O’Connor gave copies of the lease agreement to the Committee which was entered into on 1st June 2015. He said he was unaware that he needed to contact the Turf Club to notify them of the new arrangement and stressed to the Committee that he was not involved with the racing ponies in any way. Mr O’Connor confirmed that the racing ponies were kept away from the other horses and were not under his care.

With regard to the non display of the Stable Employee Bonus Scheme (SEBS) payment, Mr O’Connor said that he had paid a sum over and above the amount of the SEBS payment received to the staff concerned.

Mr O’Connor also brought his Medicines Register and passports for all horses under his care to the hearing and these were examined by the Turf Club officials. It was noted that the Medicines Register was up to date but that a number of passports needed to be endorsed and some vaccinations needed to be updated.

Having considered the evidence the Committee found Thomas P. O’Connor to be in breach of Regulation R8 (B3) as a result of failing to present passports when requested to do so by the veterinary officer. He was fined €200 for this rule breach.

The Committee found him to be in breach of Rule 148(iii)(b) for failing to make available the Medicines Register when requested and fined him €200.

He was also found to be in breach of Rule 298 5 for failing to display the SEBS payment. The Committee waived the fine for this breach of rule. The Committee ordered Mr O’Connor to pay a contribution of €250 towards Turf Club’s costs and requested the Licensing Committee to examine the lease arrangement which Mr O’Connor had with the third party.

The case was presented to the Committee by Paul Murtagh, stipendiary steward. Thomas P. O’Connor was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co Kildare.

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