Trainer Shark Hanlon apologises for ‘any distress’ after video appears of dead horse being pulled in trailer

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are investigating after video of the incident in a Co Kilkenny village emerged on social media

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are investigating a social media video which shows a dead horse in a trailer being towed through a village by a horsebox owned by trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are investigating a social media video that emerged on Monday which shows a dead horse in a trailer being towed through a village in Co Kilkenny by a horsebox owned by high-profile trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon.

In a short clip, the trailer with the dead animal in it is being towed by a vehicle carrying sponsorship by the betting firm Boylesports and referencing ‘Team Hewick.’ The well-known racehorse Hewick is trained by Hanlon, who signed a sponsorship deal with Boylesports in February.

In the clip, and amid laughter, an unidentified voice can be heard saying: “Shark Hanlon is in Paulstown, hauling a dead horse.” It is unclear when the video was filmed.

An IHRB spokesman said on Monday evening: “The IHRB are aware of a video in circulation, and we are conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the video. We will not be making any further comment until the investigation is concluded.”

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On Monday evening, Hanlon said: “All of the horses in my yard are very well cared for. Unfortunately, one of our horses died in his sleep and like all deceased animals it had to be transported to a licensed animal-disposal facility.

“Regrettably, while in transit, a tarp covering the horse came undone. It is never pleasant to see a deceased animal, and I’m sorry for any distress this may have caused.”

Hanlon said the incident occurred some months ago.

The emergence of the embarrassing video comes on the back of last week’s RTÉ Investigates programme which uncovered shocking scenes of animal cruelty at Ireland’s only equine abattoir, Shannonside Foods Ltd, in Straffan, Co, Kildare.

Work at that facility is currently suspended as Gardaí and Department of Agriculture Food & Marine officials carry out an investigation.

Hanlon was one of three trainers referenced in the RTÉ programme as having had horses they either trained or owned that wound up in the Shannonside facility.

He is best known for his star performer Hewick, a bargain basement €850 purchase that has turned into one of best steeplechasers in the sport. Among his biggest successes was the King George VI Chase at Kempton last Christmas.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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