Kildare based trainer Paddy Hayes has had his licence suspended for 15 months by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.
It was confirmed on Friday that Hayes, a brother of leading jockey Chris Hayes, was found to have brought racing into disrepute by an IHRB referrals panel chaired by Justice Raymond Groarke.
The decision came on the back of a jury in Naas circuit court finding Hayes guilty of animal neglect in December after a thoroughbred in his care was found in an “emaciated state” in 2020.
Hayes received a suspended three month sentence and was ordered to pay €5,000 to a local animal charity in Kildare.
He has continued to train since that verdict but on Thursday the IHRB panel - which couldn’t act until the court case concluded - suspended his licence with effect from June 1st.
The horse, a gelding by Requinto, was found by a passer-by in February of 2020 who reported the animal to be in a “shocking condition.”
The panel heard the horse was in an emaciated state with a cardiac murmur and a prolapsed penis. Shortly afterwards the animal was euthanised because of his poor prognosis for recovery.
Hayes, whose last winner in Ireland was Pro Bono in Dundalk last November, had a runner declared at Leopardstown on Friday evening.
The IHRB’s chief veterinary officer, and head of anti-doping, Dr Lynn Hillyer, told the panel that Hayes had fallen “far short of the standards expected of a licenced trainer” in regard to his care of the horse.
However, she also said that two stable inspections after the horse was discovered found no issue with the other animals in his care and she described the case as an “isolated issue.”
Hayes’s vet gave evidence that he would have no issue with having a horse in training with Hayes and his interpretation of the situation was the horse had rapidly lost condition due to an underperforming heart rather than a lack of feed.
Hayes held a licence from 2005 to 2012 and renewed it again in 2019.
He told the panel he had been to see the horse and a companion in the field just days before the issue was reported and said both horses “had trotted over to him and that the gelding had looked bright in his eye and gave a buck and a kick and appeared in good form.”
He stated he got a call three days later with a complaint about the horses in the field he was renting. When he saw the Requinto gelding “unrugged” he immediately called for a vet.
Hayes immediately thought the gelding had got a kick from his companion horse but was told by the vet that the horse was suffering from a heart murmur and in his best interests needed to be euthanised.
He said he was “upset” by the circumstances and regretted not taking the rug off the horse when visiting a few days earlier.
Hayes, who accepted full responsibility, said the incident was “not in his character” and that he prides himself on his standards of horse care.
He also provided details of some personal trauma and issues he has suffered from in recent years. The IHRB’s chief medical officer, Dr Jennifer Pugh, gave details of her dealing with Hayes from 2020 although they were described as “medically sensitive.”
Evidence in support of Hayes was also given by Richie Galway, representing Jessica Harrington, who employs her colleague to pre-train horses. Galway said horses have always arrived at the Harrington yard in great condition, both physically and mentally.
The panel said it viewed the case as “a one-off situation” for Hayes and that the failures in care with the particular animal were “out of character.”
They also acknowledged how Hayes “has suffered considerable mental health difficulties” and the incident was “one of a confluence of other circumstances which have been outlined today.”
However, it concluded: “This committee is extremely conscious of the need that the reputation of horseracing in this country must be maintained as a priority, not just for the good of horse racing itself but for the good of the people who rely upon horse racing as a source of livelihood.
“Irish people are generally extremely proud of the manner in which horses are looked after to the highest standards in this country and are justly proud of that situation. It follows therefore, where there is a failure to meet that particular standard, that punishment must follow.”
As well as the suspension, the panel also allowed a sum of €2,500 in costs.
Hayes’s suspension comes on the back of a number of high-profile suspensions under the disrepute rules.
They include trainer Stephen Mahon who is serving a three and a half year suspension that arose on the back of breaches of animal welfare rules.
Gordon Elliott returned from a six month suspension in September after a notorious image emerged of him sitting on a dead horse.