'Misunderstanding' leads to bans and fines for Aidan and Donnacha O'Brien

Aidan O’Brien and Donnacha O’Brien have both been fined €2,500 and prohibited from attending race meetings in Ireland for two weeks after failing to enter the Curragh through the health screening area on Irish 2,000 Guineas day.

The matter was heard by a referrals panel at the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board at the Curragh on Monday morning, following the breach on June 12.

Speaking after the hearing, the perennial champion trainer said that the breach came about due to a misunderstanding in relation to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board procedures. 

"Donnacha and I travelled to the races together and we had all the paper work for the health screening done and that was all fine, but it was my first day's racing since racing resumed and we went to go in the side gate we always use by the car park," O'Brien explained.

"We were allowed in and there were no questions asked. I went in and out a number of times during the day and nobody said anything to me. There was nothing untoward about it, it was just a misunderstanding, and we are fully supportive of all the measures in place to keep racing going."

They are not the first trainers to have been hit hard after breaching coronavirus health screening protocols in Ireland. 

Last month, Emmet Mullins was fined €5,000 and prohibited from accessing any racecourse for three months after breaking the rules at Leopardstown on June 14.

It is understood Aidan and Donnacha's fines are less severe than Mullins' because they had completed their necessary paperwork but failed to enter the Curragh through the correct entrance.

Mullins, meanwhile, failed to present a bar code, which is necessary to enter an Irish racecourse under the current regulations, but was later seen on CCTV footage to be in the parade ring before and after the stable's Oriental Eagle ran in the Saval Beg Stakes.

At the same referrals sitting on Monday, authorised representative for Enda Bolger, Sarah Bermingham, was fined €150 and prohibited from attending a racecourse for two months for accessing Bellewstown without completing the necessary requirements. However, the panel suspended the second month of Bermingham's sanction.

Donnacha O'Brien's two-week ban starts immediately while Aidan O'Brien's ban begins next Monday following submissions.