O'Brien hit by £10,400 fine over Cape Blanco affair
BALLYDOYLE supremo Aidan O'Brien has been handed an unwanted pre-Christmas present in the shape of a whopping £10,400 (€12,200) fine over the Cape Blanco affair, and also given a stern warning over his future conduct.
O'Brien was yesterday notified of the fine by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) disciplinary panel, which came down hard over the trainer's actions after Cape Blanco had won the Dante at York in May.
But apart from the fine, the BHA have stated that if O'Brien were to breach the rules in similar circumstances again, the panel would have "no hesitation in acting to restrict the ability of Aidan O'Brien's horses to run in Great Britain."
The record-breaking 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 course's veterinary surgeon following the colt's success in the Derby trial.
Cape Blanco had been examined post-race by the vets and was trotted before them after visiting the sampling unit, where he was found to be lame. But when they attempted to examine him for a second time at the course stables, they found the horse ready to travel back to Tipperary.
O'Brien refused to let the horse be trotted, stating it would be "insane" as it would only aggravate an over-reach the horse had previously suffered on his heel and injured again during the race.
The charge was later amended, and the trainer admitted to "acting in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of horseracing in Great Britain" at a disciplinary panel hearing that 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 is due, as on both occasions when he refused to obey the stewards, he was "acting under the direct instructions of O'Brien".
O'Brien was fined £9,000 for "acting in a manner prejudicial to the conduct and/or good reputation of racing", as well as £1,400 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 horseracing in Great Britain."