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Trainer Charles Byrnes handed six-month suspension

Trainer Charles Byrnes handed six-month suspension after his horse was given a sedative ‘by an unknown person’ to STOP it winning… after one punter bet £31,000 that it would lose

  • Racehorse trainer Charles Byrnes has had his licence suspended for six months 
  • The Byrnes-trained Viking Hoard was pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018
  • Viking Hoard drifted from odds of 4-1 to a starting price 8-1 prior to the race 
  • There was a substantial betting exchange lay bet on the Tramore race, with a potential liability of £31,081 if the gelding won. This sum was risked to win £2,851

Cheltenham Festival winning trainer Charles Byrnes has had his licence suspended for six months by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after one of his horses tested positive for a banned substance.

The Byrnes-trained Viking Hoard was pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018, after which a urine sample was found to contain hydroxyethylpromazinehydroxide (HEPS), a metabolite of acepromazine (ACP), which is a sedative.

ACP is a prohibited drug under the rules of racing and following Byrnes’ request to test a B sample, the finding was confirmed.

The IHRB hearing was told of suspicious betting patterns surrounding the run of Viking Hoard which had been flagged to the Irish racing authorities by the British Horseracing Authority.

This information indicated that the there was a substantial betting exchange lay bet on the Tramore race, with a potential liability of £31,081 (€34,889) if the gelding won. This sum was risked to win £2,851 (€3,200).

Trainer Charles Byrnes (pictured at Ascot in 2014) has had licence suspended for six months

The hearing was told of two other races in which lay bets had been placed on Viking Hoard. In all three instances the lay bets were initially placed via a limited liability company.

A link was pointed out to an individual known to be associated with the combined account and said to be ‘based in a distant part of the world’ and to be be ‘associated with match fixing and associated betting in connection with other sports’.

However, there was no evidence to connect Byrnes with these betting patterns.

Evidence was heard from various officials and Byrnes himself, who ‘taking into account the gravity of what occurred’ was fined £891 (€1,000) alongside his six-month ban.

However, the IHRB added it had ‘been advised that the trainer will be lodging an appeal against this decision’.

The IHRB Referrals Commmittee hearing was held via Zoom on January 7, with the authority informing Byrnes of its decision on Monday before issuing a 14-page written judgement to support its conclusions.

Byrnes (left) enjoyed Cheltenham Festival success with Solwhit eight years ago

Byrnes (left) enjoyed Cheltenham Festival success with Solwhit eight years ago

Evidence was heard from Dr Lynn Hillyer, IHRB chief veterinary officer and head of anti-doping, Declan Buckley, IHRB deputy head of Security, Byrnes and Vincent O’Connor, veterinary surgeon.

The committee heard that Viking Hoard drifted from odds of 4-1 to a starting price 8-1 for the Waterford & Tramore Racecourse On Facebook Handicap Hurdle, with the horse receiving a reminder after jumping the first before being pulled up before the seventh hurdle, with Byrnes’ charge described to have run ‘conspicuously badly’.

Viking Hoard was found to be suffering a slow heart rate following the race and subsequent tests revealed HEPS was found in high enough concentration to exceed the International Screening Limit (ISL). The ISL is 10 nanograms/millilitre while the estimated detected level in Viking Hoard’s urine sample was 1000 nanograms/millilitre, or 100 times the applicable ISL.

The Byrnes-trained Viking Hoard (pictured in 2017) was pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018, after which a urine sample was found to contain a sedative

The Byrnes-trained Viking Hoard (pictured in 2017) was pulled up at Tramore on October 18, 2018, after which a urine sample was found to contain a sedative

The Referrals Committee decided ‘the evidence showed that Viking Hoard was subject to a dangerous degree of sedation during the race, and the committee came to the conclusion the horse had been “nobbled” by an unidentified third party when left unaccompanied’.

Cliodhna Guy, IHRB head of legal, licensing and compliances, submitted that while ‘it was not alleged that Mr Byrnes was directly involved in either the administration of ACP or the betting patterns, he had taken risks in discharging his responsibilities under the Rules that resulted in an extremely serious outcome from the perspective of the IHRB’.

The committee concluded Byrnes was ‘seriously negligent in the supervision of Viking Hoard of the day of the Tramore race’ and ‘significant actual damage flowed from the neglect of the trainer’ – financial damage for punters and ‘reputational in the case of the racing industry’.

In handing out the suspension, the committee said Byrnes had ‘indulged in an unacceptable level of risk-taking in the supervision of his charge on a race day’ and concluded a minimal sanction was not suitable as ‘the facts and consequences of this case passed any such threshold’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk