Tag Archive for: Vee Dancer

McNally registers Dundalk winner as he awaits 12-year ban appeal

Ronan McNally gave an emotional interview after saddling his first winner since being handed a 12-year ban by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board at Dundalk on Wednesday.

The Northern Irishman, who has enjoyed big-race success with popular horses like The Jam Man and Dreal Deal, was found in breach of a number of rules by the IHRB’s referrals committee following an investigation and hearing last month, including one charge of running and training his horses in a manner “prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing”.

McNally, who was also ordered to pay costs of €50,000, has since appealed the sanction which is due to come into effect on March 1, and in the meantime is allowed to continue running horses in Ireland.

As usual joined on track by his 12-year-old son Kian ‘Tubs’ McNally, the trainer was delighted to be back in the winner’s enclosure after Vee Dancer justified 2-1 favouritism in the Dundalk Winter Series Leading Trainer & Jockey Championship Handicap.

Dreal Deal was a Grade Two winner at Punchestown
Dreal Deal was a Grade Two winner at Punchestown (PA)

Afterwards he spoke of the anguish his impending suspension has caused and revealed he has reluctantly put Vee Dancer and his other stable stars up for sale.

“This horse is for sale because of my current situation. Dreal Deal is for sale, All Class is for sale and The Jam Man is for sale,” he told Racing TV.

“It’s unfortunate the position I’m in, but that’s just what we’re going to have to do at the moment. If anyone wants to get in touch, there’s a few nice Saturday horses there.

“It’s devastating. These horses are not just horses, they’re family – to think of losing them is like losing children to me. For Tubs, I would dread the day they are leaving the yard in a box and how he is going to react.

“Tubs is brilliant and I don’t want to drag him into this whole thing. It’s sad that he has to see his dad go through this and be asked questions about it, but it’s the situation we have to deal with at the moment and hopefully we’ll get through it in one piece.”

McNally is keen to fight his ban and said he is “very confident” it will be overturned on appeal, adding: “It’s totally unheard of to get warned off for 12 years – the worst penalty in Irish racing.

“I can’t see how I’m the worst person that’s ever come into Irish racing. It’s a lifetime ban. I’d have to come back after 12 years and reapply for my licence, which I would probably get rejected for.

“On appeal I’m very confident this will be turned around because I can’t see how it can be upheld. I just pray that common sense prevails and maybe we’ll get a bit of justice.

“I’d say there’s a lot of trainers that don’t want to reach out to me because they’re worried for themselves. If we start looking back at races from two or three years ago and horses coming up through the handicaps and horses going off after big gambles, I’d say there’s a lot of people in Ireland in trouble.

“I think Irish racing is in big, big trouble if that’s a precedent that’s going to be set going forward.”

Ronan McNally with The Jam Man at Navan
Ronan McNally with The Jam Man at Navan (PA)

What appears to be hurting McNally most is the fact that not only is he set to be suspended from training, but he will not be allowed to step foot on a racecourse for the duration of his ban.

His son has already made a big impact on the pony racing circuit in Ireland and McNally admits the thought of not being there for a planned professional debut in the coming years is hard to take.

“Tubs will probably have his licence in four years to go riding. He’s a very talented rider, I’ve nurtured him since he was one or two years of age and we go everywhere and do everything together,” said McNally.

“The thought of not being able to go to a racecourse to saddle up his first horse or be there to watch him coming in, it’s not ending a career, it’s ending a life for me.

“I can’t imagine he’ll even want to go racing without me as we’re like two peas in a pod. We’re best friends more than father and son and wherever I go, he goes.

“It’s sad to think that might be terminated, I think very unfairly. As I said to the committee, one thing is taking my licence away, it’s another thing banning me from going racing – it’s our life.”

McNally senior and junior are regular visitors to the Cheltenham Festival, but as things stand the trainer will not be able to make his annual pilgrimage to the Cotswolds.

He added: “At the moment I can’t even go to Cheltenham to watch it. It seems horrific.

“Mentally this is soul destroying. It’s consumed my life for two or three years and mentally it would break you.

Dreal Deal with owner and trainer Ronan McNally
Dreal Deal with owner and trainer Ronan McNally (PA)

“I’m quite a strong character, luckily enough. If you were weaker in the mind, God knows what would have happened, but I’m trying to stay strong for the child and I don’t want to be crying about it.

“I’m keeping my head held high, we’ve had a nice winner today and we’re going to enjoy that.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good appeal put together and get a good outcome.”

McNally’s son has been a regular on TV in recent years and also spoke to Racing TV at Dundalk.

On the prospect of the ban and missing the day he rides on the racecourse, he said: “I’d say it will ruin my dad’s life. It will ruin his life if he isn’t allowed to be at the races when I’m riding, that’s what I would say.”

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