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Judge refuses horse trainer's request for pause to licence suspension

The High Court has refused horse trainer Tony Martin’s bid for a pause to a three-month suspension he received from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) for an alleged breach of anti-doping rules.

Mr Justice Rory Mulcahy rejected Mr Martin’s claims regarding the IHRB’s use of a UK barrister at his appeal of the temporary revocation of his trainer’s licence.

The judge refused to permit the Co Meath-based trainer to further pursue his judicial review request for the suspension to be overturned.

The suspension will begin with immediate effect, as the judge refused to grant a stay that would have lasted while his court proceedings are in being or any shorter pause while Mr Martin considers whether to appeal the rejection.

His suspension was due to start on Wednesday of this week. However, the IHRB did not object when the case came to court on Tuesday to Mr Martin’s horses running in a race on Wednesday, given the court was due to rule on Thursday.

The suspension is due to lapse in about mid-August, meaning Mr Martin, a multiple Cheltenham festival winner, will not have runners at the Galway festival.

At an original IHRB hearing last December, Mr Martin was fined €11,000 and given a six-month licence suspension that was suspended for two years. It came after ‘Firstman’, a horse he trains, failed a drugs test after winning in Dundalk in January 2023.

The horse tested positive for lidocaine, a local anaesthetic used to block pain, which is prohibited on a race day.

Mr Martin and the IHRB appealed the ruling. He argued the penalty was too severe, while the IHRB contended it was too lenient.

An appeals panel chaired by retired High Court president Peter Kelly ruled that a three-month suspension plus the fine would