Ruby Walsh has questioned the severity of 12-year ban handed down to Ronan McNally after the trainer's career was left in tatters following a ruling by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) yesterday.
McNally was disqualified from racing for 12 years and ordered to pay costs of €50,000, as well as returning over €13,000 in prize money, after the IHRB’s referrals committee hit him with the biggest ban in Irish racing history.
The Armagh trainer was judged to have breached a number of rules, including one charge of running and training his horses in a manner “prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horse racing”.
McNally will appeal the ban, which takes effect on March 1, and the trainer who rose to prominence through the exploits of horses like Dreal Deal and The Jam Man will be unable to enter any premises licensed by the IHRB or work for another trainer unless he is successful.
Walsh was left "confused" with the high-profile case and while acknowledging that several rule breaches did occur, the retired jockey feels that the punishment doesn't fit the crime.
"Twelve years just does seem very...there's no doubt there was an offence. There's no doubt there was something going on but I think like in every walk of life punishments have to fit crimes and it does seem very extensive," Walsh said.
"They didn't think he was that blatant because nobody caught him on the day. He cannot have been blatant because all those races that were re-opened (for investigation), none of them had a stewards' enquiry on the day.
"If it was blatant, you would imagine it would have been seen on the day. I honestly, I read it and read it...I was confused. I kept thinking 'there has to be more to this, there has to be more to this' and it seemed to be the same offences repeated.
"It was the same thing four or five times, under four different rules and it's all added up in an amalgamation in the end."
Walsh also expected details about sums of money staked on the races in question to be published in the IHRB report and he feels that its absence is "the elephant in the whole thing".