Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Seamus Fahey (Trainer), M.J. Bolger (Rider) Appeals - Tramore 1st June 2018

The Appeals Body (Division 1), Justice Joseph Finnegan (in the chair), Joseph M. McGrath, and John Murphy met at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) on Thursday, 14th June 2018 to consider the appeals of Seamus Fahey (Trainer) and M.J. Bolger (Rider) against the decision of the Stewards at Tramore on 1st June, 2018.

On the day, following the running of the DFL Construction Ltd. Maiden Hurdle, the Stewards enquired into the running and riding of Canford Lady, ridden by M.J. Bolger, and trained by Seamus Fahey. and having considered the evidence found that both rider and trainer were in breach of Rule 212 A(ii). As a result, the Stewards suspended M.J. Bolger for 5 racedays and ordered that he forfeit his riding fee. The Stewards also fined Seamus Fahey, €2,000 and suspended Canford Lady for 42 days.

The grounds of both appeals were that Seamus Fahey and M.J. Bolger did not cause, contribute to or permit the running and/or riding of Canford Lady in such a way that the horse could not be seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the horse timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible place.

Furthermore, given the manner in which the mare had been ridden on her two previous starts and her performance on those two occasions, Seamus Fahey specifically adopted and instructed different tactics in an attempt to get his horse to show an improved performance and at all stages prior to the running of this race, Mr. Fahey’s instructions to the rider were to obtain the best possible place in the hope of encouraging her owners to persist with her.

Evidence was heard from Seamus Fahey and M.J. Bolger. The Appeals Body also considered a transcript of the original enquiry and viewed a recording of the race as well as recordings of the horse’s previous two runs at Wexford on 17th March 2018 and Kilbeggan on 30th April 2018.

In his evidence, Seamus Fahey referred to how Canford Lady was ridden at Tramore and said that the different riding tactics and the change in ground brought about improvement from her previous two runs at Wexford and Kilbeggan.  He confirmed the instructions to M.J. Bolger which were to drop out, take your time and come home well.  He noted that the race was run 12 seconds faster than the handicap hurdle on the same card. 

Mr. Fahey said that the owners were anxious that the horse would run well as they wanted the mare to win so as they could breed from her.  He said that there was talk of her being taken out of training if she did not perform well at Tramore so it was in his interests that the mare ran well.

With regard to the riding tactics, he said that if the mare had been ridden differently she might have been closer.  He noted it was her best run to date and despite this he could understand why she was ridden the way was and he had no issue with the ride.  He said that he would instruct the jockey to make more use of her the next day and see what happens.  He also said that the improved ground contributed to the better performance.

Seamus Fahey also referred to the mare’s previous runs at Wexford and Kilbeggan and to how she was ridden on both occasions which was the reason why the riding tactics were changed for today’s race. 

In his evidence Mark Bolger also referred to the mare’s previous race at Kilbeggan when he rode her.  He said she travelled well to the third last and after that was unable to keep up with the other horses.  As a result of this, he rode her differently at Tramore and held on to her as long as possible because of the way she stopped at Kilbeggan.  He accepted that in hindsight he should have made an effort sooner with her. 

M.J. Bolger said he could understand why someone would be aggrieved with the way he rode her but said that by doing this, she finished out the race better than her previous races.  He said he was fully aware of the requirement of Rule 212 and was of the view that he had complied with the rule.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body noted that Seamus Fahey had opted for a change in tactics but that the rider had made his attempt too late to comply with the requirements of Rule 212.  They noted that M.J. Bolger had allowed distance to develop between his mount and the other horses and felt that he did not give the horse a full opportunity of obtaining the best possible placing.

The Appeals Body noted that under Rule 148, a Trainer is responsible for everything to do with the running of a horse unless he provides a satisfactory explanation and in this case, they were satisfied that it was not the trainer’s intention that the horse would have been as far back during the race.  On that basis they were satisfied with the explanation provided for the performance at Tramore when taken in the context of the way the horse was ridden in her previous two races.  As a result, they allowed Seamus Fahey’s appeal and lifted the suspension on Canford Lady.

The Appeals Body found that M.J. Bolger was not seen to ride the horse to obtain the best possible placing in the context of the requirements of the Rule and found him in breach of Rule 212 A (ii). They found that he had let Canford Lady become too far detached from the rest of the field at a crucial point in the race and that he made insufficient efforts to remedy the situation in a timely manner.  In view of this they dismissed his appeal and confirmed the original decision of the Stewards to suspend M.J. Bolger for 5 racedays (June 16th, 17th 20th 22nd & 23rd).   They also ordered that he forfeit his riding fee.

The Appeals Body ordered that Seamus Fahey’s appeal deposit be refunded but that M.J. Boger’s appeal deposit be forfeited.

Seamus Fahey and M.J. Bolger were represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley, Solicitors, Wolfe Tone House, Naas Town Centre, Naas, Co. Kildare.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal, Compliance & Licensing and Liam Walsh Stewards Secretary.


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