Trainer Luke Comer fined €10,000 by Turf club
Businessman also picks up suspended six-month suspension of his training licence
Luke Comer: refused permission for officials from the regulatory body to inspect his stables in Kilternan last month. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times
The high profile property developer Luke Comer has been given a suspended six month suspension of his licence to train racehorses, and fined €10,000 by the Turf Club, after he refused permission for officials from the regulatory body to inspect his stables in Kilternan last month.
At a Referrals Committee hearing chaired last week by Justice Tony Hunt, Comer was also ordered to pay €4,000 in costs. Comer apologised to the Turf Club officials who arrived to inspect his yard on March 22.
They included the Turf Club’s chief veterinary officer, and head of anti-doping, Dr Lynn Hillyer.
The six month suspension of Comer’s licence will only take effect if he fails to comply with Turf Club rules in the next six months. It was also agreed an inspection of Comer’s premises will take place and any issues arising will, if necessary, be put before the Referrals Committee.
In January Turf Club officials twice inspected Comer’s premises. They noted what they described as a number of anomalies including how 13 of the 19 horses returned in training had various problems which required veterinary input, care and monitoring, and that three stable staff had not been registered.
The officials also noted that Comer spends a considerable amount of time out of the country and highlighted a number of areas which they felt needed to be addressed.
At a previous Referrals Committee hearing, subsequent to the officials’ report on March 6th, Comer accepted the reports and outlined the steps he’d taken to address the concerns, referring to the recruitment of extra staff and how he was aware of the supervision need to be in place.
On that occasion the Referrals Committee accepted improvements had been put in place between January 11th and 24th but that the “situation on the ground was still not perfect”.
They also noted Comer’s major plans to expand his interests and they stressed the importance of a plan being put in place to deal with this.
They accepted Comer doesn’t need to be at the training establishment each day to exercise adequate supervision provided he has a supervisory structure in place.
They decided to take no action other than to note the assurances given by Comer and asked the Turf Club to carry out additional inspections to monitor progress and that the highlighted issues were being addressed.
In other news, Jessica Harrington is eagerly anticipating the clash of her new Gold Cup hero Sizing John with the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree at Punchestown later this month.
“Sizing John has been hacking about the place since Cheltenham and he doesn’t need to do much as we’ve two weeks until the race (Punchestown Gold Cup.) He’ll canter over the coming days and do a bit of work later in the week and another next week and that should put him spot on,” she said.
“He has a very relaxed way of jumping and I don’t think he missed a beat the whole way around Cheltenham. I see Coneygree is coming and it should be a great race,” she added.
A total of 19 horses remain in the Gold Cup at Punchestown including the defending champion Carlingford Lough. Willie Mullins is also likely to be represented and has left in both Djakadam and the prolific mare Vroum Vroum Mag who was runner-up to Apple’s Jade over hurdles at Cheltenham.
The pair are among 17 hopefuls still left in the race with the Colin Tizzard -trained Fox Norton, winner of last week’s Melling Chase at Aintree, and runner-up to Special Tiara at Cheltenham, also still in contention to travel.
The five day Punchestown festival will bring the 2016-17 National Hunt season in Ireland to a conclusion.