Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Donnacha O’Brien (Rider) – Appeal Fairyhouse, 29th June 2016

The Appeals Body (Division Two) Justice Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Charles J. O’Reilly and John Weld met in the Stewards Room, Leopardstown Racecourse, Dublin 18 on Thursday, 7th July 2016 to consider the appeal of Donnacha O’Brien, rider, against the decision of the Stewards at Fairyhouse on 29th June 2016. On the day, he was suspended for three racedays following the running of the La Bucca Restaurant Handicap as he was found in breach of Regulation R 10 (3) (b) for the unnecessary hitting of his horse Ruby Gates after her chance of winning or being placed was clearly gone.

The grounds of appeal were that the local Stewards erred in their decision and that he was not in breach of the Regulation as set out.

Evidence was heard from Donnacha O’Brien and A.P. O’Brien (Donnacha O’Brien’s master). Film of the race was also viewed as was film of races at Leopardstown on 23rd June, The Curragh on 26th June and Roscommon on 4th July 2016.

In his evidence, Donnacha O’Brien said that he didn’t consider what occurred was unnecessary use of the whip. He said he had not given his mount a hard race and felt he had a reasonable chance of finishing in the first six. He said he was unsure of the number of horses in front of him as they were spread across the track. He said he was surprised that his finishing position was 8th.

In his evidence, A.P. O’Brien compared Donnacha O’Brien’s whip use to that of other jockeys in the race and felt others also used the whip in a similar way but were not penalised. He also referred to a selection of races at other tracks (which were reviewed) where, in his opinion, there were breaches of rules by some of the riders but no enquiry was held. He said his view was that Ruby Gates still had a chance of being placed when the last two hits occurred which led to him being penalised.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body allowed the appeal on the basis that they did not feel the chance of Ruby Gates was clearly gone when the two offending hits occured.

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Stewards Secretary.


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