Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

P.J. Smullen Appeal (Leopardstown 9 Aug)

P.J. Smullen Appeal – Leopardstown, 9th August 2012

The Appeals Body (Division Two), Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Michael Doyle and Peter N. Reynolds met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 20th August 2012 to consider an appeal from P.J. Smullen, rider Gallileo’s Choice, against the decision of the Stewards at Leopardstown on 9th August 2012 when, following the running of the Ballyroan Stakes, he was suspended for two race days for careless riding.

The grounds of appeal lodged by his solicitors, Coonan Cawley, were that “P.J. Smullen did not ride carelessly and bearing in mind his exemplary record the penalty imposed was excessive.”

Evidence was heard from F.M. Berry, rider Bible Belt, K.J. Manning, rider Light Heavy, P.J. Smullen and D.K. Weld, trainer Gallileo’s Choice.  The Appeals Body also considered a veterinary report from Sycamore Lodge Equine Hospital.  Film of the race was also viewed.

In his evidence F.M. Berry accepted that there was interference.  He said he didn’t accept that he was responsible for causing the interference though he did accept that he may have marginally come off his racing line.

In his evidence K.J. Manning told the Committee that he didn’t receive pressure from F.M. Berry’s horse on the inside.  He said he saw Pat Smullen’s horse coming across and that his natural instinct was to check.

In his evidence P.J. Smullen attributed the interference to a dip and to the camber of the track and he said that he held his racing line around the turn.  He went on to say that his horse switched legs and rolled in a fraction quicker than expected.  He also said that he didn’t accept he rode carelessly and what occurred was a result of him going back to his racing line.  The rider concluded by stating that he could not have done anything to prevent what happened.

In his evidence D.K. Weld said that the incident occurred as a result of his horse going left and he referred to the horse’s previous races where something of a similar nature occurred.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body found that there was interference and that it was caused by P.J. Smullen trying to resume his racing line.  They found him guilty of careless riding as he did not pay enough attention to where K.J. Manning’s horse was at the time of the manoeuvre.

In relation to penalty, the Appeals Body accepted that the interference was at the lower end of the scale.  They also noted that, in arriving at their decision on the night, the Leopardstown Stewards would not have had the benefit of either D.K. Weld’s evidence or the veterinary evidence.  Having taken all the above factors into account and P.J. Smullen’s excellent record, the Appeals Body reduced the penalty from two race days to a severe caution.  They recommended that he take greater care in future.


The case was presented by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.  P.J. Smullen was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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