A RULE change which comes into force next weekend means that disqualified individuals such as trainer Ronan McNally can attend racemeetings as long as they stay in public enclosures.

McNally was given a record 12-year suspension in January, having been found to have committed a serious breach of racing’s rules by deliberately not running a number of his horses on their merits so that they would receive favourable handicap marks.

Not only was McNally banned for 12 years, he was ‘warned off’, meaning he could not set foot on a racecourse during his suspension, and he was also ordered to return €13,000 in prize money and ordered to pay €50,000 in costs.

McNally’s appeal was heard last month and the result was published on Wednesday. Although the financial penalties were not lifted, McNally did win a reduction in his suspension from 12 years to eight years and, significantly, the Appeals Panel revealed that the impending rule change will allow McNally (and other ‘disqualifed’ individuals) to enter the public areas of racecourses.

This concession is important to McNally as his son Kian is expected to take out an apprentice jockey licence in the coming years, following a prolific spell in pony racing.

Asked about the rule change, a spokesperson for the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board said: “The upcoming change to Rule 276 occurred as part of an overall review of the Rulebook which commenced late last year and involved significant editorial revisions and a small number of substantive rule changes. A revised Rulebook was approved by the Directors of the IHRB and is published on our website; it will take effect as of July 1st.”