June 22, 2021

Harrington faces two-week ban

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Trainer Jessica Harrington has been prohibited from attending a racecourse for two weeks and has been fined 3,500 euros after contravening coronavirus restrictions during Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board hearing concluded that Harrington “acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing”, and ruled she must not attend a racecourse for two weeks from May 24.

Harrington travelled to Aintree last month without staying in the ‘Irish bubble’, set up for the duration of the three-day meeting in line with Covid-19 protocols. She ran both Magic Of Light and Jett in the Grand National itself.

The veteran trainer told the hearing she was aware of what was required in terms of accommodation within the ‘Irish bubble’ in place for those travelling to Aintree but that her intention was to travel to Aintree from her home on the morning of the race and return to Ireland that evening, therefore not be required to enter the ‘Irish bubble’.

She added that in the days before the fixture she decided that making the journey to Aintree in one day would be too exhausting and changed her plans to travel on the Friday instead and use the opportunity to carry out some independent business with owners by viewing a horse they had requested her to look at – and she accepted an offer to stay at their accommodation.

Harrington added that she felt at the time she was not breaking the rules, because she never entered the Irish bubble on the race day – but now accepts she was in breach of the protocols.

In determining the appropriate sanction, hearing chairman Mr Justice Raymond Groarke noted that “a breach of these protocols could have enormous consequences for racing in Ireland and that Mrs. Harrington accepts that she has been in breach of the rules”.