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Byrnes loses appeal against six-month suspension

Trainer Charles Byrnes has been unsuccessful in his appeal against the decision of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s Referrals Committee to suspend his licence for six months and fine him €1,000.

Byrnes was handed the penalties after one of his horses tested positive for a prohibited substance after being pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018.

The urine sample of Viking Hoard was found to contain hydroxyethylpromazinehydroxide (HEPS), a metabolite of acepromazine (ACP), which is a sedative and forbidden under the rules of racing.

The IHRB committee had ruled that although it was not alleged Byrnes was directly involved in either the administration of ACP or the betting patterns surrounding the horse, “the evidence showed that Viking Hoard was subject to a dangerous degree of sedation during the race”, and came to the conclusion the horse had been “nobbled” by an unidentified third party when left unaccompanied.

The IHRB added at the time that Byrnes had signalled his intention to appeal -and the Limerick trainer has been able to continue having runners in the interim – sending out Off You Go to win at the Dublin Racing Festival.

That appeal was heard last week, and a verdict supporting the original decision was published on Thursday.

In its findings the appeals body said submissions referenced “Mr Byrnes’ personal and financial circumstances and his success as an experienced and capable trainer for 26 years”, and that the loss of his licence “would be ruinous for him” and that his employees would have to be let go and horses currently under his charge would have to be sent elsewhere.

But it added that “the focus of the Appeals Body’s deliberations must be on the blameworthiness of Mr Byrnes’ conduct. In the judgement of the Appeals Body, Mr Byrnes failure to ensure any attendance on Viking Hoard at Tramore Racecourse stables for two significant periods prior to the race on October 18 was, in the language of the Referrals Body, ‘seriously negligent’.”

It added: “Whilst the Appeals Body accepts that there is no evidence that he (Byrnes) was aware of the extraordinary and suspicious betting activity on Viking Hoard, it simply cannot ignore the very serious consequences which flowed from his misconduct and dereliction of duty.”

The appeals body said the penalties were to take effect 14 days from the publication of the verdict.

Byrnes was also ordered to pay costs, estimated at €2,000.

Speaking via Zoom at a press conference arrange by the IHRB, its chief executive Denis Egan said he was “satisfied” with the result while also finding it far from ideal they were still no nearer to knowing who administered the drug or who laid the horse.

“We’re satisfied with the outcome of the investigation. In a perfect world of course we’d like to know who administered the solution to the horse and we’d also have liked to have found out who laid the bet,” said Egan.

“Unfortunately we don’t know who administered the solution and the person who laid the bet is outside the jurisdiction, as such. The perfect result would have been to get both of those, but I think the result is excellent.

“This is something that could have gone completely under the radar had the horse not been sampled in Tramore and I think it was a very good investigation.

“We’ve an excellent relationship with Betfair/Paddy Power and I want to pay tribute to them for their cooperation on an ongoing basis. They supply information to us and are always willing to support us in any investigation.”

Egan also confirmed that Byrnes is not a disqualified person, meaning he can continue to work in racing during his period of suspension.

Charles Byrnes awaiting verdict following Viking Hoard appeal

Trainer Charles Byrnes is awaiting a verdict from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s appeals panel after contesting the decision to suspend his licence for six months and fine him €1,000.

Byrnes was handed the penalties after one of his horses tested positive for a prohibited substance after being pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018.

The urine sample of Viking Hoard was found to contain hydroxyethylpromazinehydroxide (HEPS), a metabolite of acepromazine (ACP), which is a sedative and forbidden under the rules of racing.

The IHRB Referrals Committee held a hearing via Zoom on January 7, with the authority informing Byrnes of its decision before issuing a 14-page written judgement to support its conclusions.

The committee decided “the evidence showed that Viking Hoard was subject to a dangerous degree of sedation during the race”, and came to the conclusion the horse had been “nobbled” by an unidentified third party when left unaccompanied.

Cliodhna Guy, IHRB head of legal, licensing and compliances, submitted that while it was not alleged that Byrnes was directly involved in either the administration of ACP or the betting patterns, he had “taken risks in discharging his responsibilities under the rules that resulted in an extremely serious outcome from the perspective of the IHRB”.

However, the IHRB added at the time that Byrnes had signalled his intention to appeal and the handler has been able to continue having runners in the interim, sending out Off You Go to win at the Dublin Racing Festival on Sunday.

The appeal was heard on Tuesday evening, with no date set for a verdict.

A spokesperson for the IHRB said on Wednesday: “The appeal was heard last night, the panel reserved their judgement and after that we just await their decision.”

Charles Byrnes lodges appeal in Viking Hoard case

Trainer Charles Byrnes has lodged an appeal against the decision of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board to suspend his licence for six months and fine him €1,000 after one of his horses tested positive for a banned substance.

The Byrnes-trained Viking Hoard was pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018, after which a urine sample was found to contain hydroxyethylpromazinehydroxide (HEPS), a metabolite of acepromazine (ACP), which is a sedative and prohibited under the rules of racing.

The IHRB Referrals Committee held a hearing via Zoom on January 7, with the authority informing Byrnes of its decision on Monday before issuing a 14-page written judgement to support its conclusions.

However, the IHRB added it had “been advised that the trainer will be lodging an appeal against this decision”, and the lodging of that appeal was confirmed to the PA news agency by the IHRB on Friday.

Doctor Duffy out to extend winning run in Kerry National

Charles Byrnes is keeping his fingers crossed Doctor Duffy can continue his progression and put up a bold show in the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel.

The high-class hurdler was beaten on his first three starts over fences – finishing fourth on his chasing debut at Tipperary before suffering short-priced defeats when runner-up at Roscommon and Galway in July.

However, Doctor Duffy rewarded those who kept the faith when scoring in a first-time visor at Kilbeggan last month – and the headgear seemed to do the trick again when he followed up in the Mayo National at Ballinrobe two and a half weeks ago.

Byrnes said: “It took him a good while to get his act together over fences. He couldn’t win a beginners chase not that long ago – but his last two runs have been good, and the visor seems to have helped him.

“He’s up in grade and doesn’t have a lot of experience over fences, but we’ll hope for the best.

“If he runs like he did in Ballinrobe, he should run a good race.”

Doctor Duffy is the clear favourite in a maximum field of 18 runners on Wednesday.

Champion trainer Willie Mullins fires a three-pronged assault, with stable jockey Paul Townend partnering Cabaret Queen – winner of the Munster National at Limerick last autumn and third in the Galway Plate on her latest appearance.

Willie Mullins has a strong hand
Willie Mullins has a strong hand (Simon Cooper/PA)

The eight-year-old mare is joined by stablemates Robin Des Foret (David Mullins) and Blazer (Mark Walsh), who finished second and third respectively in a handicap chase at Killarney last month.

Mullins’ assistant David Casey said: “Cabaret Queen ran a great race in the Galway Plate. I think the track and the ground should suit her, so hopefully she’ll run well again.

“We’re putting cheek-pieces on Blazer for the first time, which I think will make a big difference to him. He’s in good form and ran a good race in Killarney the last day – I could see him running a big race.

“Robin Des Foret has been second in a couple of good races in Killarney this year, which is a flat track and similar to Listowel. He disappointed in the Galway Plate, but I think coming back to a flat track will be a help to him.

“Hopefully they’ll all run well. It’s a competitive race, but you can make a case for them all.

Malone Road runs at Listowel on Wednesday
Malone Road runs at Listowel on Wednesday (PA)

Henry de Bromhead saddled last year’s Kerry National hero Poker Party and has this year declared four runners – with Plan Of Attack, Spyglass Hill and Kupatana joined by third reserve Minella Times.

Gordon Elliott has a couple of representatives in Ravenhill and Three Musketeers, while Joseph O’Brien has Mortal and second reserve High Sparrow in contention.

Other hopefuls include Edward O’Grady’s The West’s Awake and Dermot McLoughlin’s course-and-distance winner Freewheelin Dylan.

The main attraction on the undercard is Elliott’s Malone Road, who puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Seamus Mulvaney Bookmaker Novice Hurdle.

The Cheveley Park-owned triple bumper winner returned from the best part of two years off the track to make a winning debut over obstacles at Kilbeggan last month, and will be strongly fancied to follow up faced with four rivals.