An independent report into financial matters of “grave concern” revealed by Irish racing’s regulator in June has yet to be completed and may not be delivered until 2024.
The Mazars audit and tax firm was appointed by Horse Racing Ireland in June after the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s chief executive outlined to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee his unhappiness with matters linked to governance around financial transactions in 2022.
The IHRB boss Darragh O’Loughlin told the PAC he had become aware of a financial issue that he labelled a “bombshell”. It emerged that the IHRB’s chief financial officer, Donal O’Shea, had been put on a period of voluntary leave without prejudice to his position.
Both the IHRB and HRI have been largely tightlipped on the matter since, declining to comment on speculation linking it to an apparent discrepancy in money provided to a number of charity funds that support injured jockeys which are administered by the regulator.
Reports have suggested figures listed as remittance to the funds don’t tally with figures provided in the IHRB’s financial statements. O’Loughlin has said he doesn’t believe the issue has anything to do with “personal gain” and that no misappropriation of public money has taken place.
However, almost five months since it was confirmed Mazars would carry out an investigation there is still no sign of their report. In June it was said the matter was expected to take a number of months although no precise publication date was given.
“We are in the hands of Mazars. It’s a thorough review and we have engaged with them,” an IHRB spokesman commented on Monday. He said there was no indication yet of when anything would be delivered and couldn’t rule out the review continuing into the New Year. He added: “We have committed to publishing the findings when they do.”
On Wednesday evening the IHRB is scheduled to appear before a joint Oireachtas Agriculture Food & Marine Committee to answer questions on governance at Irish racing’s regulator.
Separately, an altercation at Cork racetrack on Sunday involving trainer Thomond O’Mara and clerk of the course Paul Moloney has been described as a “serious incident” by the IHRB who have appointed a senior official to investigate it.
County Tipperary-based O’Mara wouldn’t attend the stewards room after the incident but Moloney outlined to them that he was approached by the trainer as he was coming off the track after a race and that O’Mara became “increasingly abusive and aggressive towards him which resulted in Mr O’Mara becoming physical.”