O’Brien hit with hefty ‘Cape’ fine and warning

AIDAN O’Brien was yesterday fined just over €12,000 by the British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel, in relation to the Cape Blanco affair at York in May.

He was also warned if he breached the Rules in similar circumstances again they would have ‘no hesitation in acting to restrict the ability of his horses to run in Great Britain.’

The Ballydoyle trainer was initially charged with “acting in a manner prejudicial to the conduct and/or good reputation of racing,” after instructing his employee, Pat Keating, not to trot up the horse in front of the BHA veterinary officer and the senior racecourse veterinary surgeon, following the colt’s Dante success.

That charge was later amended, and O’Brien admitted to “acting in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of horse racing in Great Britain” at a disciplinary panel hearing which ended last month, as well as two other charges of encouraging and/or causing Keating to refuse to comply with two instructions given by the York stewards.

In its findings, the disciplinary panel concluded that in respect of Keating, no penalty was due, as on both occasions he refused to obey the stewards he was “acting under the direct instructions of O’Brien”.

O’Brien was fined €10,560 as well as £1,640 with regard to Rule (B)83 which is “failure to obey stewards”.

A statement added: “The Panel has considered very carefully whether the proper approach on this occasion would be to deal with the issue by imposing a period of time during which horses entered in races in Great Britain by Aidan O’Brien were not allowed to race.

“The Panel has determined on this occasion that it is proportionate in all the circumstances to deal with the matter by way of a financial penalty and have determined that a fine of £9,000 is appropriate in all the circumstances.

“The Panel recognises that this is a significant sum and considers it properly reflects the disregard demonstrated by Aidan O’Brien for the concern of the vets and the proper conduct of horse racing in Great Britain.

“The Panel wishes to note that if Aidan O’Brien were to breach the Rules in similar circumstances again, this Panel would have no hesitation in acting to restrict the ability of his horses to run in Great Britain.”

O’Brien had refused to allow Cape Blanco to be trotted in front of the racecourse vets for a second time, when the horse was found to be lame after winning the Dante.

He had previously been examined by the racecourse vets and was trotted before them.

When they attempted to examine him for a second time, at the racecourse stables, they found Cape Blanco ready to return to Ireland.

O’Brien refused to allow him to be trotted again, saying it would be “insane” as it would only aggravate an over-reach he had previously suffered on his heel and injured again during the race.

At the time, O’Brien said: “We got him back down to the stable yard and got it iced and poulticed and the lads got him comfortable and ready for home.

“And what happens next? The vets come down and say they want to see the horse trotting, not for his benefit, but for theirs.

“It’s the most insane thing I have ever heard, why would you want to trot him again on a bruised heel and cause him more pain?”

Meanwhile, Noel Fehily has stood himself down from the ride on Kauto Star in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on St Stephen’s Day.

BBC sports personality of the year AP McCoy will replace Fehilly in the saddle.

Fehily suffered a wrist injury at Newbury last month, only for it then to be ruled not as bad as first feared and he successfully returned to action earlier this month. But trainer Paul Nicholls revealed last night: “Noel Fehily will not be riding Kauto Star on St Stephen’s Day.

“He has stood himself down as he believes he needs an operation and surgery, and could be out for six to eight weeks.”

A devastated Fehily said: “It’s the wrist injury I had earlier. It had been good for my comeback and everything was great, but I had a couple of rides yesterday and I’ve tweaked it again. It’s just flared up again and I haven’t got enough time to get it right. I need to get it looked at again. It’s not good.”

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox