Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

John Joseph Hanlon Appeal Hearing

John Joseph Hanlon – “Fearless Warrior” Appeal
Gowran Park, 20th March 2010

The Appeals Body (Division Two) N.B. Wachman (in the Chair), Paul Ronan and Tom Rudd, met in the Stewards Room at Punchestown Racecourse, Co. Kildare on Wednesday, 21st April 2010, to consider the appeal of John Joseph Hanlon, trainer, against the decision of the Acting Stewards at Gowran Park on 20th March 2010, when following the running of the Spring Team Classic Final 2010 at Gowran Park Maiden Hurdle, he was fined €2,000 and “Fearless Warrior” was suspended for forty two days for using the racecourse as a training ground.  The grounds of the appeal lodged by Coonan Cawley Solicitors, on behalf of Mr. Hanlon, were that he did not use the racecourse as a training ground and sought to use different riding tactics from those utilised in the horse’s previous run bearing in mind the horse’s disposition to pull very hard.

Evidence was heard from M.F. O’Donoghue, Stewards Secretary on duty at Gowran Park, Conor Farrell, rider of “Fearless Warrior” and John Joseph Hanlon.  Videos of the race were also viewed as were videos of the horse’s previous run at Down Royal on 17th March and his subsequent run at Gowran Park on 14th April.

In his evidence M.F. O’Donoghue said that, while watching the race, he was concerned at the way the horse was ridden and that he felt that the animal wasn’t put into the race when he should have been.

In his evidence Conor O’Farrell confirmed that his instructions were to switch the horse off and creep into the race.  He stated that the horse never settled and when he asked for a response the animal just stayed on.  He accepted that he should have made an effort to put the horse into the race sooner, but further stated that his mount would not have finished any closer than he had.  He accepted that the primary objective was to get the horse to settle and thereafter try to win if possible.

In his evidence John Joseph Hanlon confirmed the instructions given to Conor O’Farrell and accepted that the rider did as instructed.  He stated that he was satisfied with the ride up to a point.  He further stated that they had tried different tactics at Gowran Park in an effort to get the horse to settle as he had pulled very hard at Down Royal on his previous run when he was ridden from the front.

In his summary Andrew Coonan said that his client, John Joseph Hanlon, should be given the benefit of any doubt and as he tried different tactics which didn’t work.

Having considered the evidence the Appeals Body found that there was a breach of Rule 212 as the racecourse had been used as a training ground.  They felt that the horse was never put into the race with a chance of winning or of finishing in the first three.  They reduced the fine imposed on Mr. Hanlon to €1,000 in view of the way he met the case.  However, they ordered that the forty two day suspension originally imposed on “Fearless Warrior” remain in place.  They also ordered that each side be responsible for their own costs.

The case was presented to the Committee by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.  John Joseph Hanlon was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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