Horse Racing Ireland chairman stays tight-lipped on Kavanagh controversy

HRI chief executive’s appointment for third term set to be subject of Dáil questions

Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Horse Racing Ireland’ s chairman Joe Keeling has declined to comment on the controversial reappointment of Brian Kavanagh as chief executive of racing’s body for a third term which is set to be the subject of Dáil questions this week.

TDs Clare Daly and Willie Penrose have said they will raise the matter of Kavanagh’s appointment, while the Public Accounts Committee is seeking “a full and detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding the reappointment”.

Although Government guidelines state that CEOs of semi-state organisations should serve no more than a single seven-year term, Kavanagh has been chief executive of HRI since it was formed in 2001 and began a third term of five years at the weekend.

Kavanagh started his second seven-year period in charge in 2009 but controversy has grown on the back of the process by which he has been appointed for a third time.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said earlier this year that he agreed to the appointment after a “business case was submitted to my department by the board of Horse Racing Ireland that was strongly supported by the Minister of Agriculture”.

It has since emerged that some members of the HRI board had not been aware of this business case and Keeling has reportedly apologised to the board in relation to how Kavanagh’s reappointment has been handled.

At the Curragh on Sunday Keeling declined to comment on the matter. Keeling’s colours were carried to success in the final race by Texas Coach.

In other news, former champion jockey Tommy Stack, who famously rode Red Rum to the third of his Aintree Grand National victories in 1977, has confirmed he will retire from training at the end of the year.

His son ‘Fozzy’ will take over the licence.

After finishing a riding career that saw him twice crowned champion National Hunt rider in Britain, Kerry- born Stack began training at his Co Tipperary base and saddled his first big winner when Corwyn Bay won the inaugural Cartier Million at the now-defunct Phoenix Park track in 1988.

Greatest success

His greatest success as a trainer came when the Robert Sangster-owned Las Meninas won the English 1,000 Guineas in 1994. Another Group One winner was Myboycharlie, who landed the Prix Morny.

“Fozzy, who has been an absolutely essential and integral part of everything here for the best part of 20 years, will take over the licence,” Stack said.

“We have had some memorable days all the way from Corwyn Bay to Myboycharlie.”

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