Quinn is banned for neglect of horses

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The Independent Online

Mick Quinn, the former footballer who had followed his fellow professionals Mick Channon and Francis Lee into the ranks of racehorse trainers, was yesterday banned by the Jockey Club until 2004 after an inquiry into allegations that he had neglected his horses. A meeting of the Club's disciplinary committee concluded that Quinn's licence to train should be withdrawn with effect from a week today and they told him he should not re-apply for it before 1 January, 2004.

John Maxse, the Jockey Club public-relations officer, explained that the lengthy ban was because of "the serious nature" of the offence, but at least one fellow trainer was outraged by the severity of a punishment which effectively takes away Quinn's livelihood and may end his training career.

The inquiry was held after complaints were made by a member of the public to the RSPCA over the condition of three horses left out at grass near Quinn's Wantage stables.

David Muir, the RSPCA's equine consultant, said that he was pleased with the way in which the Jockey Club had handled a case which could have been dealt with in court. "We know the Jockey Club has stringent rules over these matters," he said. "This decision fully vindicates the RSPCA's decision to pass over the matter. It's an appropriate punishment and shows that we have an excellent dialogue with the Jockey Club."

Quinn was charged with a breach of the Club rules because the overall condition of Winsome George, Arab Gold and Zola "fell below that expected of a licensed trainer, indicative of a lack of care and skill on Quinn's part towards both the owners and the horses in his charge", Maxse said.

Quinn, who admitted that he was in breach of the rule, declined to comment after the hearing at which he was legally represented by the National Trainers' Federation's lawyer, Susannah Farr. He is now considering an appeal, which must be made within the next seven days. Rupert Arnold, the chief executive of the NTF, said: "We are discussing the terms of an appeal over the scale of the punishment."

However, Maxse said: "The committee were of the view that the serious nature of the case merited this punishment. They were concerned that a person who is licensed to train and look after horses could allow their condition to deteriorate to such a degree."

But within the racing community many were shocked to hear of the severity of the punishment. Richard Hannon, the former champion trainer, said: "It's a disgrace to take a man's living away like that. OK, fine him four or five thousand but to do what they've done seems harsh."

The football career of Quinn, 39, spanned 16 years, during which he played for eight clubs, including Newcastle United and Coventry City. His career was not without controversy and in 1987 he was jailed for 21 days for driving while disqualified. He scored a total of 228 goals and ended his playing days at Watford in 1995. After working for two years as an assistant to Channon, Quinn took out his licence to train at East Manton Stables in Sparsholt, Wantage, Oxfordshire. He saddled 33 winners over the past three seasons, running his three-year-olds more frequently than any other trainer with 10 or more horses in his care, and has added four winners this year.

The last trainer to be punished for a similar offence was Viv Aconley, who was fined £2,500 and warned off for five years in October 1998 after the disciplinary committee found that she had kept horses in a "desperate and unacceptable condition". Mrs Aconley had already stopped training when her punishment was meted out.