THE punters at the centre of the Ronan McNally investigation are believed to have won in the region of €20,000 when backing or laying McNally horses, and lost a similar amount when backing or laying horses from other yards.

These betting records, coupled with the ‘inside information’ links between the Cork-based punters and the Armagh-based trainer, are what led the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board to build their case against those involved in the alleged deception of punters, which this week saw McNally warned off for an unprecedented 12 years.

The case is unique in that it saw the Referrals Committee re-examine past races and conclude, with the benefit of hindsight and betting records, that five horses trained and/or owned by McNally had been ‘non-triers’ on numerous occasions, even though those horses had not come to the attention of stewards on the day.

Based on their findings, the Referrals Committee went a step further and disqualified the five horses from a total of 36 races, including five wins.

Yesterday McNally told The Irish Field he plans to appeal the sanction, along with the order to pay €50,000 in legal costs and return €13,000 in prize money.

Fellow trainer David Dunne, who trained three of the McNally-owned horses, has until Tuesday to lodge an appeal against his six-month suspension, €5,000 fine and order to forfeit €25,000 in prize money won.

Betfair accounts

Point-to-point handler Ciaran Fennessy can also appeal his one-year warning off and fine of €5,000 for passing on inside information about the McNally horses to third parties. The Referrals Committee heard evidence from Betfair of two Betfair Exchange accounts in the names of Fennessy’s father and brother, Liam and Aaron.

Unlike in the Charles Byrnes/Viking Hoard case of 2021, the Referrals Committee did not publish the amounts wagered on the relevant races but, having heard that Ciaran Fennessy was in regular contact with McNally, the Committee concluded that inside information was being passed. “Any other explanation is simply not credible,” they said.

A request from The Irish Field to the IHRB to provide more details on the bets placed was turned down on the basis that it was a matter for the Referrals Committee. However, a source close to the case told The Irish Field that the Fennessy accounts had won close to €20,000 on McNally’s horses, while losing an equivalent amount on other races.

As Liam and Aaron Fennessy are not licensed by the IHRB and did not give evidence at the hearing, the Referrals Committee said that findings in relation to them “will be dealt with in due course.”

Penalties defended

The IHRB has rejected claims that McNally was the victim of scapegoating, stating that the sanctions “reflected the seriousness of the breaches found”.

Defending the penalties imposed on McNally, an IHRB spokesperson said: “Every case which is put before a disciplinary panel of the IHRB is considered on its merits, with consideration of the specific circumstances of the case and the evidence presented.

“The evidence in this case included an extensive detailed investigation of sustained, organised and planned actions over multiple years, involving a number of different individuals and several horses under their care or ownership across a wide range of races.

“The committee noted that the offences involved a deception of the public, especially the betting public, and struck at the integrity of the sport. Ultimately, the committee found that there had been 20 breaches of the rules, with a number of those rules having been breached on multiple occasions by multiple individuals.”