Trainer Stephen Mahon banned for breaches including neglect

IHRB inspection found horses ‘catastrophically injured’ and ‘emaciated’

Trainer Stephen Mahon has been banned for four years. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Trainer Stephen Mahon has been banned for four years. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Co Galway trainer Stephen Mahon has been banned from training for four years.

Mahon was found to have breached rules relating to animal welfare and proper supervision by an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board Referrals Committee panel, chaired by Mr Justice Tony Hunt, which released its verdict on Thursday.

Mahon had his license suspended in April on the back of an unannounced IHRB inspection of his rented premises in Kilcolgan on the 13th of that month.

On Thursday he had his licence suspended until April 14th, 2025, the longest penalty ever handed out to a trainer in Ireland, due to a series of rules breaches including the neglect and lack of proper supervision of 10 racehorses.

During a lengthy hearing process the panel heard how one horse, referred to by the panel as Animal A, had to be put down the day after the first inspection of Mahon’s premises due to being “catastrophically injured” in a fetlock joint.

It also heard how the day before the inspection Mahon had entered Animal A to run at Ballinrobe later that week.

Other horses on the premises were found to have been neglected including one who was found to have been “emaciated” and another that was found to have a wound on a leg that was “thickened with copious discharge.”

The panel concluded there were “multiple and widespread failures to secure the welfare of animals” in the trainer’s charge “which go to the heart of his fitness to continue to hold a training licence.”

They accepted that Mahon showed remorse but withdrew his licence and was ordered to pay €5,000 in legal costs to the IHRB.

Mahon has not been disqualified so can continue to work within racing in some other capacity other training.

It is the second time he has had licence suspended by the IHRB.

He was suspended for four months in 2008 for bringing racing into disrepute in relation to a Circuit Civil Court case the year before when Mahon was ordered to pay €34,000 in damages to the owner of the mare, Pike Bridge.

The court ruled the trainer had treated the thoroughbred so badly it had to be humanely put down to stop unnecessary suffering.

An IHRB referrals panel that subsequently suspended Mahon concluded that while there was no evidence of cruelty to Pike Bridge, there had been “complete disregard of the procedures for the ordinary running of a licensed stable.”

IHRB officials declined to comment on Thursday ahead of any possible appeal of the verdict.

It is nevertheless another reputational blow to Irish racing in a year that saw confirmation of the Charles Byrnes-trained Viking Hoard having been ‘nobbled’ with a sedative at Tramore races in 2018, as well as trainer Gordon Elliott being suspended for damaging the reputation of the sport over a controversial image of him sitting on a dead horse.

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