Ian McInnes: banned by the BHA for three yearsPICTURE: Racingfotos.com
Trainer McInnes banned by BHA for three years
TRAINER Ian McInnes has been banned from racing for three years for his "reckless disregard" of horse welfare after running Commando Scott nine times following a de-nerving operation on a hind leg.
Following a BHA disciplinary inquiry on June 10, McInnes was found in breach of rule 188 for running a horse that had undergone a de-nerving, or biaxial neurectomy, rule 51 for failing to conduct his business with reasonable care and skill, and rule (A)31.2 for misleading BHA investigating officers.
In a case with echoes of the four-year ban given to Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Howard Johnson in 2011, the BHA issued a three-year disqualification for the first two breaches and six-month ban for the third, to run concurrently with the first.
The horse at the centre of the case, Commando Scott, underwent a biaxial neurectomy to his right hind plantar digital nerve on July 29, 2008 and as such as not eligible to race after that point.
However, East Yorkshire-based McInnes ran the gelding on nine occasions from May 1, 2009 to September 5, 2009, reaching a best placing of runner up in the fifth of the races.
During an investigation sparked by a tip off from Commando Scott's subsequent trainer Declan Carroll, in November 2011 McInnes twice denied knowing the whereabouts of Commando Scott and, in the words of the BHA, explicitly lied about his knowledge of the horse having undergone the neurectomy procedure.
He also was found to have misled investigators by making arrangements to have the horse removed from his yard to avoid the BHA having access for the purposes of examination.
Counsel for McInnes admitted the breaches at the outset of the disciplinary hearing and yet the BHA said two matters of contention remained.
Firstly, the extent of the trainer's knowledge of the surgical procedure and whether he ran Commando Scott aware that this was in breach of the rules. Secondly, whether McInnes had recklessly disregarded the horse's welfare.
The BHA's disciplinary panel felt it "inconceivable" that McInness would take one of the best horses in his yard to Newmarket for "an operation of last resort" without knowing exactly what that operation involved and its consequences.
McInnes told an investigating officer that it was only once he had read the publicity surrounding the Johnson case in the Racing Post that he "put two and two together" and understood what had been done to the gelding.
The panel concluded that McInnes had "recklessly disregarded the welfare of Commando Scott and running this gelding post neurectomy was intrinsically not in the best interest of the horse".
He has been given until Monday for owners to remove those horses in his care at Catwick, near Beverley, to another licensed trainer.
The panel also advised the BHA that the "mischief" that had occurred in the case "would not have been so easily perpetrated if the fact of the neurectomy had been recorded in the gelding's passport".
The BHA may now consider whether to oblige vets to record the fact of a neurectomy in a horse's passport so the issue may be more visible and easily tracked.
BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "It is pretty rare that someone would attempt this course of action and both this case and that of Howard Johnson ended with lengthy disqualifications imposed, which you would expect for any action that impacts in such a way on a horse's welfare."
McInnes was racing at Redcar when the punishment was announced but declined to comment.