IHRB rules out pre-race identity checks despite Harrington error

Applications close for job of new IHRB chief as Denis Egan steps down this week

Irish racing’s regulatory body has no plans to introduce pre-race identity checks despite the high-profile mix-up of two Jessica Harrington-trained horses at the Galway festival in July.

Harrington was fined €2,000 by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after "winning" a two-year-maiden with a horse thought to be the newcomer Alizarine but which in fact was the three-year-old Aurora Princess.

The trainer apologised on the day for what she described as “human error” and at a subsequent referrals committee hearing accepted responsibility for the mistake made by her staff in saddling the wrong horse.

On the back of the incident there were calls for horses’ micro-chips to be scanned before racing to make sure such mistakes don’t happen again. Britain’s racing authorities scan all horses on arrival at a racecourse and when leaving for the parade ring.


However, an IHRB spokesman has said there are no plans for a similar move here.

“Prior to that [Galway] we had trialled it and subsequent to that we have trialled it again.

"We will always look at these things but as accepted by Mrs Harrington in this instance responsibility is with the trainer. There are no definite changes in the pipeline at the moment," he said.


Monday saw applications close for the job of new IHRB chief executive. The long-serving CEO Denis Egan steps down this week after deciding to take early retirement. Interviews are expected to begin next month although no date has been set for any appointment.

The current head of licensing, legal and compliance, Cliodhna Guy, is acting as interim CEO until any new appointment is made.

When advertising for the post, the IHRB said “an enthusiasm for the horse racing industry and previous industry experience is preferred but not a requirement”.

There is black-type action on Tuesday’s Cork programme where a field of 16 will line up for the Listed Navigation Stakes, including the 2019 winner Up Helly Aa.

Harrington runs three in the race including the Irish Cambridgeshire winner Bopedro. Should ground conditions turn testing the recent Listowel winner Laelaps could come into the mix.

Notre Belle Bete is a ratings standout off a mark of 96 in an earlier maiden, although New York Angel could upset the figures.

Johnny Murtagh’s runner found only the subsequent classic winner Empress Josephine too good on her debut in March and is returning to action after a lengthy lay-off.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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