Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

M.J. Ferris Appeal Hearing

M.J. Ferris Appeal – Listowel – 16th September 2011

The Appeals Body (Division Two), Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), J.R. Craigie and Valerie Cooper met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 27th September 2011 to consider an appeal from M.J. Ferris, rider Man Turk Lady, against the severity of the ban imposed by the Stewards at Listowel on 16th September 2011 when following the running of the John J. Galvin Maiden Hurdle he was suspended for seven race days for using his whip with excessive frequency and unnecessarily when out of contention when his chance of winning or being placed had clearly gone.

Evidence was heard from M.J. Ferris and Michael O’Callaghan, trainer Man Turk Lady.  A video of the race was also viewed.

In his evidence M.J. Ferris explained the background as to why he used the whip in the manner it was used.  He said he didn’t use his whip with force.  He also said that he felt he had a chance of being fourth between the last two hurdles but accepted that this opportunity was gone after jumping the last even though he continued to use the whip.  He said that he didn’t intentionally breach the rule and he was doing all he could on the horse to achieve the best possible placing.  He also submitted a certificate from Gwen Spicer, Veterinary Surgeon, who at his request examined Man Turk Lady subsequent to the race which confirmed the horse was not marked.

Michael O’Callaghan said that the mare was a “lazy” mare that needed further and that he was trying to get her to improve.  He said that both he and the owners were satisfied with the ride.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body accepted that the evidence given by M.J. Ferris was frank and honest.  They accepted that he may have misjudged the situation in the heat of the moment and lost sight of the rule.  They also accepted that he was not deliberately harming the horse.  Taking all the above factors into account and also the guidelines for penalties, where the whip is used with excessive frequency and unnecessarily when a horse is out of contention and the chance of winning is gone, the Appeals Body dismissed the appeal and ordered that the original penalty of seven race days stand.  As a result M.J. Ferris is suspended on 30th September, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th & 9th October 2011.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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