Trainers concerned over impact of Turf Club’s new ‘non-trier’ rules

IRTA seeks meeting with chief Turf Club vet over issue of evidence

The body representing Ireland’s racehorse trainers says it has concerns about aspects of the Turf Club’s new “non-trier” regulations which came into force almost six weeks ago resulting in a surge in “running and riding” enquiries.

The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association spokesman Michael Grassick has pointed in particular to last month's unsuccessful appeal by the connections of Look Closer whose trainer Ellmarie Holden was fined €2,000, and the horse banned from racing for 42 days, after a race at Fairyhouse.

New veterinary evidence was presented at that appeal but was described by the Referrals Committee panel as "not relevant or helpful in the case".

The Jockeys Association has already expressed unease about possible implications for animal welfare on the back of the new "non-trier" regulations which require jockeys to be seen to make every effort to achieve a horse's best possible position.


"We have serious concerns, particularly with the Ellmarie Holden case where the Turf Club's own veterinary evidence, and independent veterinary evidence, was deemed to be irrelevant. We're talking here about the welfare of the horse, and the jockey. That's the main worry for trainers right now, the fact that veterinary evidence is irrelevant," said Grassick who added he is seeking a meeting with the Turf Club's chief veterinary officer, Dr Lynn Hillyer, over the matter.

The IRTA spokesman said he has been “surprised” by the increased number of running and riding enquires since the new regulations came into force at the end of January.

“I still think my original point about interpretation still stands. You can rewrite the rules but it still depends on who is looking at a case and the experience they have,” Grassick said.


The most high-profile “‘non-trier” case came at Dundalk last week when the Johnny Murtagh-trained Tobacco Bay was banned for 42 days under Rule 212 and jockey

Seamus Heffernan

banned for five days. Murtagh was fined €2,000.

Gordon Elliott is set to break new ground in Irish jump racing this weekend by passing through 1,000 runners in a season and can enjoy a productive Saturday at Navan with the short-priced pair of Icario and Kings Bandit.

The season’s leading trainer will have just a couple of runners at Leopardstown on Sunday where Skerries based Karl Thornton could secure a lucrative double over fences with Bearly Legal and Paper Lantern.

Ruby Walsh rides in the first two races and his decision to opt for Bonbon Au Miel in the opening conditions, and his booking for Kaiser Black in the following maiden, both look significant.

Identity Thief, still a 16-1 for Cheltenham’s Arkle, will hope to get his season back on track in Sunday’s novice chase.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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