Banned Equine Surgery Prompts British Trainer's Suspension

The Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has suspended trainer Ian McInnes for three years in connection with running a horse nine times after it had undergone a type of surgery that is banned for racehorses.

According to the June 21 ruling, McInnes will be suspended from June 22, 2013, until June 21, 2016, for violating three rules of racing. He was given until Monday, June 24, for his owners to remove the horses in his care and transfer to other trainers.

The panel concluded after a June 10 hearing that the horse Commando Scott, trained by McInnes for Mrs. Ann Morris, had raced nine times after undergoing a biaxial neurectomy (essentially, a permanent nerve block) to his right plantar digital nerve on July 29, 2008. Horses that have undergone that type of surgery are precluded from racing again because the de-nerving could post a risk of injury to the horse and to other horses and riders in races in which it competed.

During the BHA's investigation, according to the disciplinary panel report, it was determined that the veterinarian who performed the neurectomy had told the trainer that it was a banned procedure for a racehorse.

The report said McInnes told investigators he did not know what a neurectomy procedure was and did not understand what it meant. McInnes said it was only after the trainer read about a similar case involving another trainer that he realized Commando Scott should not have continued to race.

"The panel did not accept McInnes' version of events as given in interview and put forth by his counsel at the hearing," the report said. "The veterinary surgeons had clearly recorded the advice they had given to both the owner and trainer in respect of the procedure and its implications for horses that were racing.

"The Panel concluded that McInnes knew the gelding should not be ridden in races post the operation and that in continuing to do so, he disregarded the welfare of the gelding and indeed the safety of the jockey who was called upon to ride the gelding and, more widely, those horses and jockeys alongside which Commando Scott raced after the operation."

The Panel also dismissed as not relevant the references by McInnes' attorney that horses in some parts of the world are permitted to race after having the same surgery as that undergone by Commando Scott.

Commando Scott, a gelding who won nine of 77 starts and earned $206,532, raced from age 2 until age 9 in 2010.

The disciplinary panel suspended the trainer for three years for violating rules pertaining to running a horse after it has undergone a biaxial neurectomy and for failing to conduct his business with reasonable care and skill, and six months for misleading investigating officers. The six-month suspension will run concurrently with the three-year suspension.

Originally published on

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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