Champion trainer Willie Mullins handed two-week racecourse BAN and fined £2,000 after staff break coronavirus rules

IRISH maestro Willie Mullins was left red-faced after being handed a two-week ban and hefty fine.

Two members of the trainers' staff broke COVID guidelines after not isolating on their return from Aintree Racecourse.

Katie Murphy and Steve Jones, attended a meeting at Aintree on November 7 and then were present at Punchestown a week later when they should have been restricting their movements.

The rule break was revealed at a Irish Racing Regulatory Board (IHRB) hearing on Thursday.

The IHRB confirmed: "At a referral hearing of trainer W.P. Mullins following the fixture at Punchestown on 14/11/20, Mr. Mullins was found in breach of rule 272(i), fined E2,500 & prohibited from accessing a racecourse for two weeks for a breach of Covid-19 protocols. Full details in due course."

Mullins' two staff members must both stay away from the racecourse for three months. Jones has been fined 400 euros, and Murphy 200.

Further protocols required them to self-isolate for a period of up to two weeks before being allowed to go racing again.

It was also revealed that the pair obtained a barcode to get into Punchestown by answering questions dishonestly.

Mullins quickly apologised for the episode.

He said: "It is regrettable what happened and it shouldn’t have happened. It was a complete oversight on our part and we’re sorry for it."

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Strict protocols on racecourses in both Ireland and Britain have resulted in a number of trainers being prevented from attending meetings for a period of time after being found in breach, among them Aidan O'Brien and Donnacha O'Brien.

The pair had completed the required paperwork before Irish 2,000 Guineas day at the Curragh during the week of resumption in Ireland, but failed to enter the racecourse through the designated screening area.

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