Jockey and trainer challenge Turf Club inquiry

Thursday 29 August 2013 19.00
Jockey Eddie O'Connell was on board Yachvili in a beginners' chase in Downpatrick in 2011
Jockey Eddie O'Connell was on board Yachvili in a beginners' chase in Downpatrick in 2011

Jockey Eddie O'Connell and horse trainer Jim Lambe are to ask the High Court to stop the Irish Turf Club from continuing with an inquiry into allegations that they were involved in irregular betting.

Feichin McDonagh SC said the Turf Club was due to investigate alleged betting irregularities arising from the running of Yachvili in a beginners' chase at Downpatrick in 2011.

He told the court that Yachvili had been ridden by Mr O'Connell, of Harbour View, Monasterevin, Co Kildare, and trained by Mr Lambe of Brookland Stables, Red Lion Road, Kilmore, Co Armagh.

Mr McDonagh said that at its next meeting the Turf Club planned to consider whether his clients and others, including horse owner Robert Martin breached the rules of racing in the race.

The case is considered to be an important test case with regards how the rules and regulations of horse racing are enforced.

In the proceedings Mr O'Connell and Mr Lambe have taken against the Turf Club, the body that regulates flat racing in Ireland, they are seeking an order restraining the Turf Club from continuing its inquiry into their alleged conduct.

They are also looking for declarations that the Turf Club's rules of racing were drawn up without jurisdiction and not in accordance with law.

They further seek declarations that sections of the Irish Horse Racing Industry Act 1994, the legislation which made the Turf Club the official statutory body responsible for flat racing, are unconstitutional.

The Attorney General is a notice party to the proceedings.

Mr McDonagh, counsel for both jockey and trainer, said it was their case that the Turf Club had given itself unjustified, far-reaching and wide-ranging powers for the regulation of the horse racing industry.

He said the Turf Club's jurisdiction to impose sanctions could not be found in the legislation that made it the official statutory body responsible for the regulation of flat racing.

Mr McDonagh said the allegations against his clients were very significant in that any decision taken by the Turf Club could have an enduring effect on their ability to earn a livelihood and protect their good names.

"Under the rules of racing, the Turf Club can impose sanctions such as a fine, suspension or even a lifetime ban from racing," he said.

He said no right existed to appeal to a court any adverse finding by the Turf Club.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton granted Mr O'Connell and Mr Lambe ex-parte permission to bring their actions and adjourned the application until Monday when the Turf Club would be legally represented in court.