The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has pledged “every door” at racecourse stable yards will be covered by CCTV cameras, although there is no firm date by which time they’ll all be in place.
Provision for CCTV in stable yards has been a contentious issue since the infamous Viking Hoard case when the Charles Byrnes-trained horse was ‘nobbled’ with a sedative by an unidentified third party at Tramore in 2018.
Byrnes got his licence suspended for six months after being found “seriously negligent” by leaving the horse unsupervised for a significant period.
The Co Limerick trainer in turn argued there were gaps in the investigation due to the absence of CCTV pictures that might have eliminated or identified possible culprits.
On the back of the case, it emerged that most tracks in Ireland don’t have CCTV in stable yards, something that has been mandatory in Britain for years.
It emerged too that the regulator had money allocated to it in 2018 for the installation of cameras at some tracks but used that for other integrity purposes instead.
Making sure such arrangements are in place at all 26 tracks in Ireland was recommended by an Oireachtas committee report into anti-doping last year.
The cost of installing cameras at a racecourse stable yard has been put in the region of €20,000.
Last month the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee quizzed the IHRB’s new chief executive Darragh O’Loughlin on the delay in rolling out the project.
O’Loughlin said he hoped cameras will be in place at 20 tracks before the end of the year.
On Monday, an IHRB spokesman said CCTV has already been installed at both Naas and Gowran and that the roll out is continuing.
“The project is progressing, and cameras are going up on the walls now,” he said.
Cameras had already been in place at Leopardstown and the Curragh but the spokesman added: “They have their own system and that will have to be reconfigured to come in line with what we’re doing.
“We will complete works in there to bring them in line with this project, with the purpose of every stable door being covered.”
There is reluctance to put a timeline on the installation process, however, and some courses can’t start due other redevelopments being carried out.
“There’s no point putting them [cameras] up and then having to take the back down again,” the IHRB spokesman commented.
However, the length of time involved in the process is underlined by how examination of a pilot scheme for the installation of CCTV was done by racing authorities after trainer Ted Walsh was cleared of wrongdoing on the back of the Foxrock case at Punchestown in 2014.
On that occasion both Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins were called as witnesses when Walsh was cleared of removing or securing the removal of the front shoes from Foxrock once he was alerted to a stewards enquiry into the running and riding of the horse in a race.