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Hearing opens into whether trainer Tim McCarthy took adequate measures to ensure horse's safety before fatal injury

Rikona (second left): the first leg of a double for trainer Kevin Philippart de Foy
Lingfield: all-weather track where Mindurownbusiness suffered a fatal injuryCredit: Mike Hewitt

Martin Dwyer felt shocked at watching a horse run just a month after feeling he would "break down" under him in the race before he suffered a fatal injury, the rider told a disciplinary hearing on Monday.

The hearing was convened to consider whether trainer Tim McCarthy failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and welfare of Mindurownbusiness and failed to obtain advice from a veterinary surgeon as to the appropriate level of training for a horse affected by an injury.

Mindurownbusiness returned from a 1,778-day layoff in February 2021 and suffered a broken shoulder on his third run for McCarthy when falling in a seller at Lingfield on April 10 that year.

The horse, described as "highly rated" by Daniel Frier, the barrister representing the BHA, when trained by Roger Varian and owned by Alan Spence, went into training with McCarthy in 2020 under the ownership of Homecroft Wealth Racing.

It is alleged that McCarthy had not given Mindurownbusiness fast work in the build-up to his return to the track. Dwyer – called as a witness by the BHA – reaffirmed this to the panel, having had a conversation about it with Cody Watkins, who was a raceday assistant employed by the BHA, after riding him at Lingfield on March 6, 2021. Watkins also told the panel Dwyer said to him that "he had heard from the trainer or a third party that he had not been galloped at home".

The ten-year-old gelding was beaten by a combined 85 lengths on his first two starts for McCarthy when ridden by Dwyer, before falling in his final race under Cieren Fallon, who suffered ligament and soft-tissue damage to his collarbone, as well as muscle spasms in his back.

Martin Dwyer: Derby winner with Sir Percy in 2006
Martin Dwyer: was called as a witness by the BHACredit: Edward Whitaker

Dwyer told the panel: "Mr McCarthy told me he had not worked the horse very fast and not come off the bridle, I definitely remember him saying that. And the lad leading him up said he'd not been able to do much at home.

"In his second race I instantly thought something was seriously wrong. He wasn't moving well at all and if under pressure, he'd have fallen over and broke down. I felt I'd dodged a bullet as the poor horse must have had issues."

Stella Hayden, representing McCarthy, alleged when cross-examining Dwyer that he told the trainer Mindurownbusiness had taken a misstep the second time he rode him, to which he replied: "I did not say that." 

He also told the panel he said to his agent he would not ride the horse again on his next start.

"I was surprised he was running again and couldn't believe it was so soon. Either way I wasn't riding him again as the risk was too high," Dwyer said. "I watched the race in the changing room. I felt a bit sick and thought this could go badly wrong. It was upsetting to see what happened."

The panel was told by Frier that Jonathan Dunn, who was a BHA investigating officer at the time, interviewed McCarthy on May 7, 2021 when the trainer said he believed Lingfield's all-weather surface caused the fall. However, in a statement from Fallon read out by Frier, he said the horse "didn't feel he had problems handling the track".

Former trainer James Given, now BHA director of equine health and welfare, relaxes at home in Lincolnshire
James Given: said he believed not all steps had been taken in training of MindurownbusinessCredit: Edward Whitaker

James Given, the BHA's director of equine regulation, safety and welfare, told the hearing that Mindurownbusiness's fatal injury was not "uncommon for horses whose skeletons had not been conditioned strong enough" in training. 

When asked by Frier if he believed McCarthy had taken all reasonable steps in his training of Mindurownbusiness, Given replied: "No, I don't". 

When cross-examining Given, Hayden said that the horse was scanned in January 2019, following a tendon injury suffered when trained by Varian, and healed to the extent that ridden work could be recommended. He was scanned again in April 2020 and at McCarthy's yard on March 16, 2021 without soundness being raised. 

The hearing, scheduled for three days, continues on Tuesday.

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Matt RennieReporter
Published on 18 September 2023Last updated 21:05, 18 September 2023