IHRB defend time being taken in a number high-profile investigations

Navan win of David Dunne’s All Class referred after horse was backed from 66-1 to 9-2

Racing’s regulator has defended the length of time being taken in a number of high-profile investigations it is carrying out.

It is over a year since the case involving the Denis Hogan-trained pair Tony The Gent and Yuften in a claimer at Dundalk was referred to the chief executive of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) for further investigation.

Other investigations are also ongoing in relation to the improvement in form of the Ronan McNally-trained horses Dreal Deal and The Jam Man last year.

The Jam Man’s improved form on the flat when runner-up at Limerick last September was sent on for further examination.

A similar step was also taken following Dreal Deal’s gambled on win over hurdles at Navan in September and after a win on the flat at Limerick in October.

“These are complex cases that require lengthy examination and that would be the same in any jurisdiction,” an IHRB spokesman insisted on Sunday.

His comments came on the back of an apparent improvement in form enquiry into the gambled on winner All Class at Navan on Saturday.

The case too has been referred to the IHRB's chief executive Denis Egan for further investigation.

The David Dunne-trained All Class was first reserve for a mile and five furlong handicap and after getting into the race was backed down to 9-2 from morning prices as high as 66-1.

It was a first win in 13 career starts for the six-year-old mare who had never been placed before.

On Saturday she beat Crassus by two and a quarter lengths under jockey Nathan Crosse.

In evidence at Saturday's stewards enquiry Dunne stated that his uncle, Paul Dunne, had acquired the horse late last year.

He described her racing form at that time as “abysmal” and said she was very difficult to handle.

He also pointed to how she had previously mostly competed in National Hunt races including when taking a heavy fall in Tramore and that he reverted to flat races with her to regain her confidence.

The stewards report outlined how he said “his yard had been out of form since last November with aspergillus and consequently he changed the bedding and fodder among other things.

“In his opinion his horses were not sick with the aspergillus but at the same time they were not running well. He admitted that he ran some horses while not at their best but was under pressure from owners to do so.”

When questioned about the very strong market support on Saturday, Dunne admitted “he got a number of calls this morning as is normal when he has runners and he informed all callers that his charge was back to form and going well.

“He also referred to her previous run at Dundalk where she was the subject of a running and riding enquiry which had been instigated by market moves in the betting.”

That was earlier this month when All Class finished ninth in a handicap at a starting price of 100-1 despite an apparent plunge at morning prices down to as low as 6-1.

The examination of betting trends involves the British Horseracing Authority who last year signed a deal to provide integrity services to the IHRB.

Part of it comprises monitoring betting patterns, which in the case of the Tony The Gent race at Dundalk is understood to have an international element, including on Betfair.

That exchange was at the centre of the Viking Hoard case in 2018 which saw the Charles Byrnes-trained horse laid to lose by a white label company used by a client in “a distant part of the world”.

Details of that case, which confirmed Viking Hoard had been ‘nobbled’ with a sedative, only emerged earlier this year.

It resulted in Byrnes receiving a six-month ban from the IHRB for negligence in leaving Viking Hoard unattended for periods at the racecourse stables in Tramore.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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

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