Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

M. Kelly & A.P. Thornton Appeals

Muredach Kelly – Trainer / A.P. Thornton  – Rider
Rowayton (GB) Appeals
Bellewstown – 1st July, 2011

The Appeals Body (Division Two), Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Michael Doyle and Mrs. J.O. Onions met at the at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 17th August 2011 to consider the appeals of Muredach Kelly, trainer Rowayton (GB) and A.P. Thornton, rider Rowayton (GB) against the decision of the Stewards at Bellewstown on 1st  July, 2011 when, following the running of the Beamish Inter Vintners Pub Challenge Race Nite Handicap, Muredach Kelly was fined €1,000 and Rowayton (GB) suspended from racing for 42 days as the Stewards found that he was in breach of Rule 212 as a result of the racecourse being used as a training ground. In addition A.P. Thornton was suspended for 10 race days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee as the Stewards found that he was also in breach of Rule 212.

Muredach Kelly’s grounds of appeal were that “the racecourse was not used as a training ground”. He said that Rowayton (GB) is a poor actioned horse but was in the best possible race condition that could have been achieved for the animal prior to the race.  He added that his instructions to the rider were to do his very best to win.

A.P. Thornton’s grounds of appeal was that he obtained the best possible placing on the horse given the circumstances of the race and the particular animal he was riding which exhibited to him very poor action.  He was instructed to obtain the best possible place on the horse and at all stages intended to do so.

Evidence was heard from Muredach Kelly, A.P. Thornton, B. Curtis, rider (who rode Rowayton (GB) on two occasions prior to Bellewstown), T.J.A. Smith, Turf Club Veterinary Officer, Garry O’Gorman, Senior Turf Club Handicapper.  The Appeals Body also considered a written report from Suzanne Costello MISCP CPVP, Chartered Physiotherapist in Veterinary Practice and reviewed recordings of the race.

In his evidence, Muredach Kelly said that Rowayton (GB) had been receiving physiotherapy treatment since 7th June for a number of ailments and that she had received three treatments prior to the Bellewstown run.  He accepted that this evidence was not tendered to the Stewards at Bellewstown.  He said he wanted the horse to win at Bellewstown as she was ready but felt that she didn’t handle the track on the day.  He also said that the saddle slipped at Bellewstown which was a contributory factor to the way the horse was ridden.  He accepted he didn’t report that either the saddle had slipped or that she didn’t handle the track in advance of the enquiry and that the first report of these matters was during the enquiry into the running and riding.


In relation to the ride given by A.P. Thornton, Mr. Kelly accepted that he wasn’t riding at “full power” but said that this was due to the saddle moving.  He said that the horse was in the best condition he could have had her in but that with her ailments she was a difficult ride and had lost her action coming out of stalls on a number of previous runs.  He also accepted that this matter had not been reported.  He reiterated that the filly was “doing her best” at Bellewstown.

In his evidence A.P. Thornton told the Appeals Body that he hadn’t ridden Rowayton (GB) prior to her run in Bellewstown and that he himself had never ridden over the five furlong track at Bellewstown.  He said he was riding at his lightest and used a 1lb saddle with elastic girths and that the saddle slipped at an early stage of the race.  He said that the horse broke well but became unbalanced out of stalls.  He said he felt “unsafe” with his saddle.  He accepted that he wasn’t vigorous on the horse but that he did slap her down the shoulder and that he could have been more forceful if the saddle hadn’t slipped.  He agreed that he made no post race report about any of the running issues which arose in advance of the enquiry.

In his evidence Ben Curtis told the Appeals Body that he had ridden the horse on two occasions previously and that he learned a lot from riding her the first time.  He said she was a “bad moving” horse.

In his evidence Garry O’Gorman said Rowayton (GB) was a consistent filly when trained in the UK but that she had shown little form in Ireland.  He said that the horse’s rating had dropped from 74 to 57 since April and that it was necessary to do this to give the horse a chance of being competitive.  He said that while the Bellewstown run showed some promise, the horse ran to a mark of about 46 in that race.  He noted that she did not appear at ease on the track.

In his evidence, T.J.A. Smith said that he examined the horse twice at Bellewstown.  The first examination was at the request of the Stewards and the second examination at 8.10pm was at the request of the trainer.  On both occasions he found the horse to be post race normal.  He also gave a veterinary view on the report submitted by Ms. Costello.

Having considered the evidence the Appeals Body allowed both appeals.  In making their decision, the Appeals Body noted that the Stewards on the day were put in an impossible position as evidence tendered to the hearing today was not given at the Stewards enquiry at Bellewstown.  Had this evidence been available, the Stewards may have reached a different decision.

The Appeals Body noted that a number of concerns had arisen at the hearing relating to the non reporting of issues affecting a horse’s performance which could be in breach of Rule 213.  As a result they asked parties to make submissions on this point.

In his submission, Denis Egan said that the trainer had not made any reports about the horse’s previous runs with regard to the animal being slowly away or becoming unbalanced in the early part of races.  Neither had the trainer or rider reported that the saddle had slipped or that the horse had become unbalanced during the race at Bellewstown in advance of the enquiry.

In his submission, Andrew Coonan accepted that the various reports hadn’t been made and said that in most cases Muredach Kelly wasn’t aware that he should have made any report as he did not think the facts were material.  He referred to Mr. Thornton’s inexperience as a reason why he didn’t make the reports in time.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body found Muredach Kelly to be in breach of Rule 213(ii) and (iii) and A.P. Thornton to be in breach of Rule 213(ii) in respect of their failure to report matters which might have affected the running of the horse at Bellewstown in advance of the enquiry and in Muredach Kelly’s case for his failure to report that the horse had lost her action coming out of stalls on a number of previous runs.  The Appeals Body therefore fined Muredach Kelly €1,000 and imposed a ban of 5 race days on A.P. Thornton (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th & 8th September 2011).

The case was presented by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.  Muredach Kelly and A.P. Thornton were represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors in Naas, Co. Kildare.


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