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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 16:07 GMT
O'Neill fined 6,000
Trainer Jonjo O'Neill was fined 6,000 at a hearing of the Jockey Club's disciplinary panel on Thursday.

Jonjo O'Neill leaves the Jockey Club headquarters after his hearing
O'Neill was tight-lipped after the hearing

The former champion jockey had been summoned to the racing regulators' headquarters in Portman Square, London, after a third breach of the running and riding rules within six weeks.

The Jockey Club has the power to suspend a trainer's licence in such cases but felt that in this instance a fine was more fitting.

O'Neill left after the hearing without commenting but his solicitor Alan Walls said that they would appeal against the fine.

O'Neill's most recent infringement came when Top Of The Left finished a 32-length seventh behind Vanormix in a novices' hurdle at Exeter on 27 January.

Local stewards found that O'Neill and conditional jockey Tom Siddall had breached the rules relating to schooling in public.

Because that was the trainer's third infringement of the rules within the past two years, he was automatically referred to the Jockey Club.

"If the offence had been more serious then we had the option of suspending or even removing the trainer's licence," said Jockey Club public relations director John Maxse.

And he warned that were O'Neill to reoffend, a harsher punishment may be meted out.

"The situation then would demand that the panel look very closely upon the effect that the previous penalties have really had," he said.

O'Neill's other two similar misdemeanours both occurred on 14 December and involved the performances of Gala Performance at Haydock and Madalyar at Fakenham.

The Fakenham incident led to the highest race-day fine (3,400) ever handed out by racecourse stewards.

O'Neill began training in 1990 after a successful riding career, the highlight of which was winning at Cheltenham on Dawn Run, who became the first horse to win both the Champion Hurdle/Gold Cup double.

In 2001, prominent owner and gambler JP McManus bought Jackdaws Castle in Gloucestershire and installed O'Neill as the master of the famous training establishment.

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