A North Yorkshire racehorse trainer’s career has ended in disgrace after he was convicted of several charges of animal cruelty and neglect.

York Magistrates' Court heard that Gary Sanderson, 59, looked after horses "that made money" for him but not those that did not. 

During his lengthy trial, witnesses described how the RSPCA found horses in his care with lice and worm infestations, poor dental care, overgrown hooves, poor bodily condition and living without proper feed.

They also found that he had failed to get veterinary treatment for a wounded horse and one in poor physical condition, didn't protect horses from pain and suffering and that one horse had been able to get into dilapidated farm buildings where it could be harmed.

Defence barrister Christopher Moran said the trainer and breeder “lives and breathes” horses and had done so all his life.

But his training licence was suspended when he was charged with the offences and he will not get it back, said the defence barrister.

Sanderson, of Moor Lane, Sheriff Hutton, denied nine charges of cruelty or neglect of horses, all relating to mares he was using for breeding, and a gelding, but was convicted after a lengthy trial. He intends to appeal the convictions.

District judge Adrian Lower told him: “You were well able to look after the horses in the yard because they made money for you. They were racehorses.”

He added: “You were not looking after the mares and gelding. There was no money in them. They were simply to be bred from so you could buy race horses.”

The judge said he suspected the British horse licensing authority would decide as a result of the convictions that Sanderson was “not a fit and proper person” to hold a training licence.

He ordered Sanderson to hand over the horses that he had been cruel towards or had neglected but he decided against disqualifying him from looking after horses after Mr Moran said the RSPCA had inspected Sanderson’s stables twice since he was charged and had found nothing to concern them about the horses there.

The judge initially ordered Sanderson to pay the RSPCA’s prosecution costs of £94,482, but Mr Moran said he didn’t have the power to do so when a defendant didn’t have any money.

Both Sanderson and his wife gave evidence that he doesn’t own any property and that he lives off his wife's income from hairdressing and caravan businesses.

They said though Sanderson continues to breed horses, that business is not turning a profit because of the time delay between conception and the growth of a foal to a stage where it can be sold.

The judge said the RSPCA could sue Sanderson for the money through the civil courts.

Mr Moran said the lengthy court case had already been a punishment to Sanderson because it had affected his marriage and his mental health. The first court appearance was in 2019 and subsequent hearings were delayed by the courts’ closing during the pandemic and listing problems when they reopened.

Sanderson started in the horse racing industry as a teenager and was a head lad at Mike Easterby’s stables before setting up on his own. According to his website he was worked with “many top trainers not just in the UK but all over the world".

He raced horses at flat and National Hunt meetings.