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Horse Racing

Trainer Jessica Harrington banned and fined £3,000 after breaking Covid rules at Grand National meeting

TOP trainer Jessica Harrington has been banned and fined £3,000 after breaking strict Covid-19 rules.

The Classic and Gold Cup-winning trainer will be barred from entering racecourses for two weeks after breaching protocols at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

Harrington breached Covid rules at Aintree last month

All Irish trainers and jockeys were meant to stay within an ‘Irish bubble’ for the duration of the three-day festival at the Merseyside track.

But Harrington, who ran Jett and Magic Of Light in the National itself, based herself in the ‘amber zone’ for owners.

At a hearing on Monday, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board said that Harrington “acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing”.

Harrington, who has trained the likes of Sizing John and Alpha Centauri, told the hearing she was aware of what was required in terms of accommodation within the Irish bubble.

However, her intention was to travel to the Liverpool track from her home on the morning of the race and return to Ireland that evening, therefore not being required to enter the Irish-only area.

She added that in the days before the fixture, she decided that making the journey to Aintree in one day would be too exhausting so changed her plans to travel on the Friday instead.

Harrington used the opportunity to carry out some independent business with owners by viewing a horse and she accepted an offer to stay at their accommodation.

She said she felt at the time she was not breaking the rules as she never entered the Irish bubble on raceday, but now accepts that she was in breach of the protocols.

Harrington will be unable to enter a racecourse from May 24 for a fortnight – meaning she will still be able to watch her runners at the Curragh’s Irish Guineas meeting on the weekend of May 22-23.

Similar punishments have been handed down to several Irish trainers in recent months.

Emmet Mullins was fined £4,300 and banned from racecourses for three-month after breaching protocols last summer.

And Aidan O’Brien and Donnacha O’Brien received two-week bans and £2,000 fines for breaking the rules in July.

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