Trainer Jessica Harrington has been banned from attending the races for two weeks and fined €3,500 after breaking COVID-19 protocols at Aintree's Grand National meeting, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board announced on Monday. Harrington “acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing” the IHRB hearing found and her ban will last until May 24.
Harrington, who had both Magic of Light (Ire) (Flemensfirth) and Jett (Ire) (Flemensfirth) in the Grand National, did not stay in the 'Irish Bubble' set up for the duration of the three-day meeting in line with COVID-19 protocols. Originally planning to travel the day of the Grand National and return to Ireland that evening, thus not needing the 'Irish Bubble' the trainer said she was aware of the protocols. However, she changed her plans and traveled on the Friday to carrying out some independent business with owners who had a horse they wanted her to look at. As a result, Harrington stayed with those owners instead. At the time, Harrington felt she was not breaking the rules, as she never entered the 'Irish Bubble' on race day. She now accepts that she was in breach of COVID-19 protocols.
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.”