Trainers’ association to launch appeal over defamation case

IHRB chief security officer Chris Gordon was awarded €300k and full costs in the case

The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA) has said its members are not liable for the costs of the successful defamation case carried out against it by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's (IHRB) security officer.

The IHRB's Chris Gordon was awarded €300,000 in damages by a jury in the High Court in March. Gordon, a former Garda superintendant, said he was subject of an "orchestrated and severe campaign" against his good name by the IRTA. The case took eight weeks.

Last week Mr Justice Bernard Barton ruled on costs and awarded Gordon “the full costs of the action”. It is understood the costs involved in such a lengthy High Court case amount to almost €1.6 million.

The trainers’ association plans to appeal the defamation verdict and has instructed its legal team to lodge an appeal now that a ruling on costs has been issued. The body, which was set up in 1950, and has a seat on the board of Horse Racing Ireland, represents over 400 members in Ireland.

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Its chief executive Michael Grassick said on Tuesday that those members are not liable for any costs or damages involved in the Gordon case.

“We are a company limited by guarantee and not having share capital,” he said. “We are going on as normal. The appeal will be lodged as soon as possible with the courts.”

Gordon, who is still the IHRB’s chief security officer, said in March after being awarded damages: “It has been a nightmare six years and has had a huge personal toll on my family and on myself by the way I was treated by the racing industry and particular figures within it who sided with the trainers.”

The case stemmed from a stable inspection trainer Liz Doyle’s premises in March 2014. Gordon argued there was an orchestrated campaign to have him removed from his role in the IHRB in separate incidents arising from the inspection of Doyle’s yard.

Champers Elysees winning the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

In other news, Johnny Murtagh has pointed to either Newmarket's Sun Chariot Stakes or the Breeders' Cup Mile as likely targets for Champers Elysees.

The rapidly progressive filly gave Murtagh a maiden Group One success as a trainer in Saturday’s Matron Stakes at the Curragh.

“There’s two races. There’s the Sun Chariot in Newmarket, fillies only over a mile, or the Breeders’ Cup Mile. I think a mile around Keeneland would suit her really well.,” he told the Paddy Power organisation.

Murtagh won the Breeders’ Cup Mile 25 years ago as a jockey on the John Oxx trained Ridgewood Pearl.

Reports in Australia indicate that last year’s Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, and this year’s Irish Derby hero Santiago, are among a small but select Ballydoyle team being aimed at the Melbourne Cup and other big races there this autumn.

Racing Victoria said they have been told by Aidan O’Brien that four other horses – Magic Wand, Tiger Moth, Armory and Wichita – will also enter quarantine tomorrow ahead of travelling to Australia.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column