Trainer Charles Byrnes banned for six months after one of his horses was ‘nobbled’ with a sedative

Leading Irish trainer Charles Byrnes banned for six months after one of his horses was ‘nobbled’ with a sedative at Tramore racecourse

  • Viking Hoard was found to have tested positive for a sedative following the race
  • A lay bet risking €34,889 to win €3,200 was placed on Viking Hoard in 2018
  • Viking Hoard was pulled up after jumping six hurdles in the race at Tramore

Charles Byrnes, one of Ireland’s most experienced trainers and a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner, has been banned from training for six months after one of his horses was ‘nobbled’ with a sedative.

A hearing of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board was told betting patterns surrounding Viking Hoard, who was pulled up in a handicap hurdle at Tramore racecourse on October 18, 2018, showed a possible link to ‘an individual based in a distant part of the world associated with match-fixing’.

Viking Hoard, who drifted in the betting from 4-1 to 8-1 before the race, received reminders from jockey Kevin Brouder within a few strides of the start.

Charles Byrnes (pictured at Royal Ascot in 2014) had his licence suspended for six months

A lay bet risking €34,889 to win €3,200 demonstrated a degree of confidence the bet would be successful, according to the committee — who were also told of two other races involving Viking Hoard where similar bets were placed. Viking Hoard was pulled up after jumping six hurdles. Post-race examination showed he had a ‘slow heart rate’ and he later tested positive for acepromazine, a fast-acting tranquiliser.

Lynn Hillyer, IHRB chief veterinary officer and head of anti-doping, told the hearing that the evidence showed that Viking Hoard was ‘subject to a dangerous degree of sedation during the race, which was masked until the rider was required to ask the gelding for an early effort’.

In Dr Hillyer’s opinion the betting patterns were not coincidental, and she concluded that the evidence demonstrated Viking Hoard was ‘nobbled’ before the race.

The committee decided that, although there was no evidence linking Byrnes to the bets or the administration of the ACP, he had been negligent in his trainer duties.

Viking Hoard was twice briefly left unaccompanied at the racecourse, which offered time windows that ‘facilitated what was clearly organised pre-race doping’. Byrnes has told the IHRB he intends to appeal against the decision.

  • HARRY COBDEN will be reunited with favourite Politologue in Saturday’s Clarence House Chase at Ascot. Harry Skelton rode the Paul Nicholls-trained chaser when winning the Champion Chase at Cheltenham last March. But Skelton will be needed for Nube Negra, trained by brother Dan, in this year’s race and owner John Hales wants a jockey for Saturday who can also ride Politologue at Cheltenham.

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