TRAINER Ronan McNally said he was “deeply disappointed and dissatisfied” on Tuesday afternoon following news that he has been found guilty of serious breaches of racing's rules.
The Co Armagh trainer expects to find out his punishment in the new year but says he will “almost certainly” appeal.
“On legal advice I don’t want to make too much comment at this stage as there is still another hearing in January to attend," he said. "However, I am deeply disappointed and dissatisfied with the findings to date.
“No penalties are finalised yet and I still have the right to appeal the original charges. I will almost certainly be appealing the charges. I am very unhappy with the findings.”
McNally has enjoyed notable success with Dreal Deal and The Jam Man in recent seasons, with the first-named landing the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle in 2021 and both notching up sequences of wins from lowly starting marks.
It also transpired that McNally owned All Class and Full Noise, who were well-backed handicap winners for Co Meath trainer David Dunne in 2021.
These events, plus betting intelligence, prompted an investigation by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board [IHRB] into the apparent improvement in form of horses connected to McNally. The Referrals Committee heard the IHRB's case over four days in October, a hearing which also featured three jockeys, a point-to-point handler and two non-licensed individuals.
On Tuesday the Committee released its findings and found that McNally was guilty of “training and running horses in a manner which is prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing.” He was also found to acted in a manner which “caused serious damage to the interests of horseracing in Ireland”.
The Committee ruled McNally had passed on “information about the condition and wellbeing of Dreal Deal to allow others to profit from betting on the horse with a betting organisation”.
Dunne was deemed guilty of supplying misleading information and/or false information at a stewards’ enquiry, and to have conspired with McNally in concealing the real ownership details of All Class and/or Full Noise.
Point-to-point handler Ciaran Fennessy has also been found guilty of bringing racing into disrepute by passing “inside information” regarding the condition of horses to third parties.
Amateur rider Eoin O’Brien and McNally himself were deemed to have made insufficient effort to win on Dreal Deal and The Jam Man in races in July 2020.
Professional jockeys Mark Enright and Darragh O'Keeffe were found to have breached a minor rule by not reporting incidents in running when they rode Dreal Deal.
The IHRB had alleged that two other non-licensed individuals, Liam Fennessy and Aaron Fennessy, were involved in the handling of “inside information for betting purposes” but the Committee held that this was not proven.
A spokesperson for the IHRB told The Irish Field that it is hoped to schedule a sanctions hearing early in the new year.