Ballinrobe, where the incident took place in July 2013PICTURE: Caroline Norris
Trio handed two-year bans by Irish Turf Club
Former trainer Sharon Dunphy and owner Joseph Logan have been disqualified for two years over the Like A Diamond affair while work-rider Fabian Burke has been given a suspended sentence for the same period.
In handing down the penalties a Turf Club referrals committee described the three as having acted in a manner that constituted "an attack on the integrity of Irish racing". Dunphy and Logan are to appeal against the sentence.
Like A Diamond was withdrawn at the order of the stewards before his intended debut at Ballinrobe on July 22, 2013 after the Turf Club's head of security Chris Gordon acted on a tip-off that the horse was not trained by Dunphy at the Fethard yard in which he was returned in training.
The horse had been heavily backed from 50-1 to 3-1 that morning, but the committee concluded there was no documented evidence to corroborate that Like A Diamond was trained by Dunphy, whose licence fee of €425 was paid for by Logan, five days ahead of the Ballinrobe race.
Like A Diamond's registered owner was the Fair Play partnership, whose colours were similar to those of Logan. The Turf Club found that, while accepting Logan did not own the horse, he was closely associated with him and that Burke, whose current employer Mick Halford made submissions on his behalf, had been utilising stables in his yard in Kilmeague, near the Curragh.
In finding the three guilty, the regulator conceded its evidence was largely circumstantial but concluded the horse was "at all material times" trained by Burke, and that Dunphy acted merely as a facilitator in a plan "hatched to pull the wool over the eyes of the Turf Club, bookmakers and the public".
In its report, the committee found the three not to be credible witnesses, having "concocted a bizarre sequence of events" in their efforts to conceal the truth of what unfolded.