Trainers association to decide whether to appeal defamation ruling

IHRB’s security officer awarded €300,000 in damages in a defamation case on Wednesday

The Irish racehorse trainers association will decide early next week whether it will appeal a high court decision that saw the Irish horseracing regulatory board’s security officer awarded €300,000 in damages in a defamation case against them.

A jury unanimously awarded Chris Gordon €300,000 in damages after his long-running defamation case against the trainer’s body finally concluded on Wednesday.

The jury heard evidence over seven weeks in a case brought by the IHRB’s head of security which stemmed from a number of stableyard inspections carried out by officials from racing’s regulatory body and the department of agriculture in 2014.

There has been no ruling on costs in the case which are expected to comfortably exceed €1 million.


Asked about the IRTA possibly taking the matter to the court of appeal, the IRTA’s chief executive Michael Grassick said on Friday: “We will be discussing that early next week with our legal team.”

The high court jury found that Gordon, a former Garda superintendent who became head of security at the turf club in 2010, was subject of a “orchestrated and severe campaign” against his good name by the IRTA.

Gordon claimed he was defamed in a letter against his role in an inspection of the yard of trainer Liz Doyle, a daughter of former Fine Gael politician, Avril Doyle.

He sued the IRTA over a letter from its solicitor to a senior turf club steward. He claimed it falsely alleged that he attempted to entrap Liz Doyle into an admission of wrongdoing.

He said the IRTA subsequently defamed him when its chairman, Noel Meade, was quoted in an interview with the Irish Field newspaper as saying members were angered by the conduct of some officials during inspections carried out as part of an investigation related to the use of performance enhancing drugs in racehorses.

Gordon also said that Michael Grassick made false claims about his conduct following complaints from two other trainers.

As a result, Gordon said, the turf club, now the IHRB, held an enquiry which concluded he had done nothing wrong. However he said he had been restricted in his duties since 2015 and effectively “sent to Coventry” when it came to race meetings.