Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Eugene McMahon / Derek Fox Appeals Sligo – 22nd May 2013

 

Eugene McMahon / Derek Fox Appeals
(owner and rider of Seskinane)
Sligo – 22nd May 2013

The Appeals Body (Division One) Patrick Reidy (in the Chair), Martin O’Donnell and Peter Reynolds met at the Turf Club, Curragh, Co. Kildare on 11th July 2013 to consider the appeals of Eugene McMahon, owner and Derek Fox, rider, of Seskinane against the decision of the Stewards at Sligo on 22nd May 2013 to disqualify Seskinane, suspend Derek Fox for 10 race days and order that he forfeit his riding fee, following the running of the All Sports Betting Tubbercurry Hurdle.

The grounds of appeal lodged by Derek Fox were that “he did not ride dangerously and did not get a fair hearing”. The grounds of appeal lodged by Eugene McMahon were that “the horse should not have been disqualified, as the rider was not guilty of dangerous riding”.

At the outset Edward F McAllister, Acting Solicitor on behalf of Derek Fox, made a number of submissions to the Appeals Body with regard to the fairness of the stewards enquiry at Sligo. In particular he alleged that the enquiry was conducted unfairly and contrary to the principles of natural justice. He raised issues with regard to the line of questioning of his client Derek Fox which resulted in the conviction of his client for dangerous riding. He asked the Appeals Body not to allow the case presenter cross-examine on the basis of the evidence contained in transcript. In response Conal Boyce, on behalf of the Turf Club, said that as the hearing was a “de novo” hearing, he did not have any difficulty with Mr McAllister’s proposal.
Having considered the submissions, the Appeals Body ruled that the hearing should proceed without any reference to the transcript.
Evidence was heard from Paul Townend – rider Twigline (FR), Ruby Walsh – rider On His Own and Derek Fox. Film of the race was also reviewed.
In his evidence Paul Townend said that he was about a half length behind On His Own when the incident occurred. He said it was a gap of between 14 and 18 inches between Twigline (FR) and On His Own which was insufficient for Seskinane to go through. He had Seskinane held in the pocket and Seskinane had to canon into his horse to get out. He said that he was just trying to keep his horse standing after receiving what he described as “an unmerciful thump” which knocked the stuffing of her. He said that Twigline (FR) was hit three quarter away back by Seskinane at the point of impact and that it wasn’t a shoulder to shoulder charge. He concluded by reiterating that there wasn’t a clear gap for Seskinane to go through and that he felt he would have won but for the interference.
In his evidence Ruby Walsh confirmed the evidence given by Paul Townend that there wasn’t enough room for a horse to get through between On His Own and Twigline (FR) and just because there was room for Seskinane’s head to go into the gap didn’t mean that the rest of his body would get through.
In his evidence Derek Fox said that Seskinane travelled well throughout the race and that he angled out from behind just before the turn into the straight to go between On His Own and Twigline (FR). He said there was a sufficient gap and that he was almost through it when Twigline (FR) came in on top of Seskinane. He said he was upsides Twigline (FR) at the point of impact and that the collision was exaggerated as it took place on the bend. He said he did not intend to make contact with Twigline (FR) during the manoeuvre and that he did not purposely interfere with Twigline (FR) nor did he ride in such a way to endanger the safety of another horse or rider.
Having considered the evidence the Appeals Body was satisfied that what occurred fell within the definition of dangerous riding under Rule 214 with the result that Derek Fox was found in breach of this rule. As a consequence the disqualification of Seskinane was confirmed and the result of the race remains as amended by the Stewards at Sligo on 22nd May 2013 and reads as follows:
First: On His Own
Second: Twigline (FR)
Third: Time To Work
Fourth: Dooney Rock
The Appeals Body considered a submission on penalty by Edward McAllister on behalf of Derek Fox in relation to the finding of dangerous riding. Having considered the submission the Appeals Body ordered that the original penalty of 10 race days will stand and that Derek Fox forfeit his riding fee. In addition the Appeals Body ordered that he forfeit his appeal deposit and contribute €250 towards Turf Club costs. The suspension dates are 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd July.
The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Solicitor, Naas, Co. Kildare. Eugene McMahon and Derek Fox were both represented by Edward F. McAllister, Solicitor, Lisburn, Co. Antrim.


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