Sharon Dunphy disqualified for two years in Like A Diamond case

The trainer and two others were behind the backing of horse from 50-1 in to 9-4 in 2013

The Turf Club Referrals Committee finally released its verdict on the circumstances of Like A Diamond’s controversial withdrawal from a race at Ballinrobe in July of 2013. Photo: Inpho

The Turf Club Referrals Committee finally released its verdict on the circumstances of Like A Diamond’s controversial withdrawal from a race at Ballinrobe in July of 2013. Photo: Inpho

 

It is expected that trainer Sharon Dunphy and the point to point vendor E Joseph Logan will have appeals against their disqualification from racing for two years each over the Like A Diamond case heard within the next few weeks.

 Confirmation that both have been ‘warned off’ came on Monday when the Turf Club Referrals Committee finally released its verdict on the circumstances of Like A Diamond’s controversial withdrawal from a race at Ballinrobe in July of 2013.

The unraced three year old was backed from 50-1 to as low as 9-4 for a maiden race but was withdrawn when the stewards expressed concern that the horse was not in the care of Dunphy who was its registered trainer.

Almost three and a half years later, the Referrals Committee has issued a report which confirms both Dunphy and Logan have been disqualified while another figure in the case, Fabian Burke, has had a two year disqualification suspended on condition he doesn’t further breach the rules during that period.

Burke is employed by leading trainer, and Horse Racing Ireland board member, Michael Halford, who gave evidence on his behalf at one of the Referrals Committee hearings in November.

Burke had enjoyed some success as a point to point trainer but as a result of this case the Committee has also decided he will not be granted a handlers licence for four years. He is not appealing the penalties.

Disqualification involves persons not being permitted to go racing or to be employed by a trainer or to be involved in the ownership of a horse.

Delivering its verdict, a Referrals Committee statement said the trio of Dunphy, Logan and Burke “egregiously breached the rules of racing.”

It’s statement added: “To exacerbate matters, rather than own up to their wrongdoing, the respondents, between them, concocted a bizarre account of events and each of them steadfastly stuck to this account throughout the Turf Club investigation and throughout the hearings before this committee, putting the Turf Club to very considerable expense and putting a lot of people to huge inconvenience.”

The Committee said it was satisfied “that it is probable that the horse was never trained by Dunphy and that the horse was probably trained by Burke for the ‘The Fair Play Partnership.”

It concluded that Dunphy, who was based in Co. Tipperary at that time, was unable to produce documentary evidence to support the contention she trained the horse between July 11th and July 22nd of 2013 other than Logan paid €425 in respect of a flat trainer’s licence fee on her behalf.

The Referrals Committee statement says that while the Turf Club conceded that Logan was not an owner of Like A Diamond it maintained he was heavily involved with the horse and that Burke occupied boxes in Logan’s yard in Kilmeague, Co. Kildare, from the start of 2013.

Like A Diamond was worked on the Curragh that year and on eight receipts issued for the Curragh gallops in June and July of 2013, the trainer was named as Burke.

Evidence was also heard that the day before the Ballinrobe race, Logan booked Wayne Lordan to ride Like A Diamond through the jockeys’ agent. The horse was transported to the races by Burke, Logan and Logan’s father, Joseph Logan Snr.

The horse was mainly looked after in the racecourse stable-yard by Burke and when Dunphy was approached by the head of Turf Club security, Chris Gordon, it transpired Like A Diamond had not come from her registered establishment.  The Turf Club argued Dunphy was never involved in the training of the horse and was merely a facilitator so Like A Diamond could run at Ballinrobe where he was significantly backed. It said at all material times Burke trained the horse.

The Committee agreed and concluded “a plan was hatched to pull the wool over the eyes of the Turf Club, bookmakers and the public. It is no coincidence that the horse was heavily backed.”

It described the rule breaches as “an attack on the integrity of Irish racing” and that they were “very much on the higher end of the scale.”

The Turf Club’s chief executive Denis Egan acknowledged on Monday that the case had taken a long time to conclude but added: “It was an ongoing investigation and it was so slow to progress.” 

Dunphy has not had a runner in Ireland since December of 2014 and not saddled a winner since two years prior to that.

Both she and Logan have said they will take the case to racing’s Appeals Body, an independent tribunal led by chairman and deputy chairman, each of whom must be a retired judge or a retired or practising solicitor or barrister of not less than 15 years standing.

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