Trainer Ronan McNally’s appeal against 12-year disqualification to start on Monday

Co Armagh permit holder was hit with what is believed to be the longest ever ban in Irish racing

Trainer Ronan McNally’s appeal against his record 12-year disqualification is set to start on Monday at Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) headquarters.

In January the Co Armagh permit holder was hit with what is believed to be the longest ever ban in Irish racing after being found in breach of a significant number of integrity rule breaches.

A month before that an IHRB referrals panel concluded that McNally, who combines training with a kitchen fitting business, had treated the rules of racing in a “cavalier manner” after a lengthy investigation into the improvement in form of some of his horses.

It said the offences struck at the integrity of the sport and an objective of a level playing field while they also involved a deception of the betting public.


McNally, who has been able to enter and run horses while awaiting his appeal to be heard, has described the penalties as effectively a lifetime ban from the sport. The sanctions prevent him entering any IHRB licensed premises and racecourses.

He was also ordered to pay €50,000 in costs by the referrals panel and return more than €13,000 in prize money. McNally has said he is confident of reversing the judgments in his appeal.

Earlier this month trainer David Dunne failed in his appeal against the severity of a two-year suspension, as well as a €5,000 fine and repayment of €27,000 in prize money, after conspiring with McNally to conceal the latter’s ownership of a number of horses who were in his care for a period. The final 18 months of Dunne’s ban has been suspended for two years.

It is unclear how long McNally’s appeal will take with IHRB officials not commenting on the case on Sunday. There has been speculation it could take a number of days, although some precedence suggests a final decision may not emerge until sometime later.

Separately, Ballinrobe hosts its biggest fixture of the year on Monday with a card notable for not only the €80,000 McHale Mayo National.

Rachael Blackmore isn’t engaged in the big race but does team up with Lady Rita in a handicap hurdle.

It was on the Louise Lyons-trained horse that Blackmore ultimately got a five-day ban for misjudging the number of circuits in a race at Kilbeggan earlier this month.

Lady Rita ultimately finished fourth in that race and remains on the same handicap mark, putting her on a useful racing weight for Monday’s contest.

The Bumper newcomer Mystical Power could hardly be better connected as the first foal out of the 2016 Champion Hurdle heroine Annie Power and by the legendary stallion Galileo.

Patrick Mullins dons JP McManus’s colours on the four-year-old, whose ownership also includes Coolmore supremo John Magnier and Rich Ricci, who raced Annie Power.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column