Horse trainer Stephen Mahon’s four-year suspension reduced by six months

IHRB reveals Geoffrey’s Girl had to be euthanised due to ‘catastrophic injury’

The 2017 Welsh Grand National winner Raz De Maree was found to be “thin and in poor condition” and in need of veterinary treatment during an inspection of Mahon’s yard. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The 2017 Welsh Grand National winner Raz De Maree was found to be “thin and in poor condition” and in need of veterinary treatment during an inspection of Mahon’s yard. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Controversial trainer Stephen Mahon has succeeded in getting six months taken off his four year suspension for breaches of animal welfare rules.

In June, Mahon was given the longest ban ever handed out to a trainer in Ireland on the back of two inspections of his Co Galway yard in April.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) referrals panel chaired by Mr Justice Tony Hunt heard a list of failings relating to 11 unnamed horses and how one had to be euthanised due to a “catastrophic injury” to a fetlock joint.

That horse was referred to as “Animal A” at the referrals hearing.

On Friday, the IHRB revealed that “Animal A” was the eight-year-old French-bred mare, Geoffrey’s Girl, owned by Tom Doran, who won twice in her native France but failed to win in 17 starts for Mahon.

It emerged too that another of the unnamed horses was the well-known Raz de Maree, winner of the 2017 Welsh Grand National, and a horse that ran three times in the Aintree Grand National during a lengthy 51-race career.

During the inspection he was found to be “thin and in poor condition” and in need of veterinary treatment.

In a lengthy judgment released on Friday, the appeals body chaired by Justice Nial Fennelly disagreed with the original verdict in relation to how it had concluded Mahon had breached rule 148 (iv) in respect of the level of care for Geoffrey’s Girl’s injury.

Injured

Mahon contended the horse was injured during schooling one hour before the IHRB inspection on April 13th. The IHRB argued the injury was more “longstanding” and was likely to have occurred eight days before.

The referrals panel decided in its judgment that “there was no evidence of urgent efforts to secure assistance given the gravity of the injury” by Mahon.

However, the appeals body, which heard evidence on July 31st, disagreed and said there was “uncontroverted evidence” that Mahon had attempted to contact his vet by phone before the inspection began.

It also said neither of the vets in attendance at the inspection had directed that immediate surgery was required for Geoffrey’s Girl.

It also found that the “factual matrix” was not put to Mahon that he ought to make more timely efforts and he was not given a chance to meet that case.

The body concluded: “In all the circumstances it would be unfair and unjust to uphold the adverse finding in respect of Geoffrey’s Girl when there was insufficient evidence to support it.”

The appeals body also took into account an error at the referrals stage in how Mahon was twice found guilty of breaches in respect of the same animal due to a mix-up over letters.

Charges

Nevertheless, Mahon is banned from holding a trainer’s licence until October 2024 after the appeals body upheld the bulk of the charges against him.

“On any assessment of the evidence, it is manifestly clear that Mr Mahon’s conduct is injurious to the good reputation of horse racing.

“As a licence holder, he failed in his duties towards the horses in his care by failing to adequately supervise them and to identify even their most basic welfare needs,” it decided.

“Such conduct by a licence holder is inevitably detrimental to the good reputation of horse racing, and amounted to a breach of public trust and confidence in licenced trainers that animals in their charge will receive the best of care,” it added.

Mahon can continue to work in racing while being suspended and has been an authorised representative for trainer Pat Kelly.

An IHRB investigation is “ongoing” in relation to how he is alleged to have interfered in the post-race sampling of a horse he used to train when it finished third in a race at Tipperary in July.

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