Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Sligo, 30 September 2015 - Riders Appeal

 

M.P. Walsh, M.W. Bowes, B.M. Cash, A.P. Crowe, R. Loughran, M.J. Bolger, D.J. Mullins, P.T. Enright, R.C. Colgan & B.T. O’Connell (Riders) Appeals
Sligo - 30th September 2015

The Appeals Body (Division Two), N.B. Wachman (in the Chair), Peter N. Reynolds and Sean Barry met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co Kildare on Friday 9th October 2015 to consider appeals of M.P. Walsh, M.W. Bowes, B.M. Cash, A.P. Crowe, R. Loughran, M.J. Bolger, D.J. Mullins, P.T. Enright, R.C. Colgan and B.T. O’Connell, riders, against the decision of the Stewards at Sligo on 30th September 2015, following the running of the Frank O’Beirne Memorial Beginners Steeplechase. On the day M.P. Walsh, M.W. Bowes, B.M. Cash, A.P. Crowe, R. Loughran, P.T. Enright, R.C. Colgan were suspended for 2 race days and B.T. O’Connell, D.J. Mullins and M.J. Bolger were suspended for 3 race days for breach of Rule 208(iii).

The rider’s grounds for appeal were that they did not breach Rule 208(iii) as they had received directions from the starter with regard to the start of the race and no rider sought to take an advantage before the race itself commenced. Furthermore they relied as grounds for the appeal on the fact that when the race was started on the second attempt, they proceeded in a fashion similar to that which they had adapted on the first occasion when the starter aborted the start and therefore made his report.

Evidence was heard from Derek Cullen (starter), Thomas Clifford (advance flag man), John O’Sullivan (girth man), M.P. Walsh (rider), B.T. O’Connell (rider) and Barry Cash (rider). Film of the race was viewed and the Committee considered a transcript of the evidence given at the original enquiry at Sligo on 30th September 2015. Film footage of the start of the first race at Sligo on 30th September and also of the start of the second race at Clonmel on 1st October 2015 was also viewed.

In his evidence Derek Cullen outlined events at the start of the race. He said he instructed the riders to walk away and take a turn. However once the horses turned they came galloping back towards the tape and he called a false start before the horses reached the tape as he had not instructed the riders to come forward. The riders were requested to go back again and take a turn and he let the horses go on the second occasion, as they were coming forward in a controlled manner. He said the only instructions he gave to the riders on the first occasion was to take a turn and then to pull up after he called the false start. On the second occasion his last instruction to the riders as they came forward was to say “ready go riders” which is the terminology he uses when he starts a race.

In response to a question from Andrew Coonan, representing the above riders, Mr Cullen said that he did not call a false start on the second occasion as the horses were coming forward in a controlled manner. He said the riders disobeyed him on the first occasion as they came galloping forward after they were told to “take a turn”. When put to Mr Cullen by Andrew Coonan that the pace at which the horses came forward on the first occasion to the tape in the second race, was similar to the pace they came forward at in the first race, where there was no issue, Mr Cullen disagreed and said the reason he let the horses start in the first race was that the riders were coming forward in a controlled manner whereas this was not the case.

In his evidence Thomas Clifford said he was positioned about 50 yards from the start. He said he heard Derek Cullen telling the riders on the first occasion to take a turn and he then heard him saying something along the lines that the riders were “going too fast” with the result that Mr Cullen put up his flag to denote a false start and he left up his white flag to confirm the false start. He said all he heard Derek Cullen saying on the second occasion was to “take a turn”.

In his evidence John O’Sullivan said he was operating the tape and was standing beside Derek Cullen when he was on the rostrum. He confirmed Tom Clifford’s evidence with regard to the first false start. He said on the second occasion when the riders were at the marker poles he heard Mr Cullen say “ready riders go”.

The Committee also heard evidence from M.P. Walsh, B.T. O’Connell and Barry Cash. Their evidence which was similar, was that on the first occasion they were instructed to take a turn, which they did, and they then moved forward in a controlled manner towards the tape. They only became aware that it was going to be a false start as they approached the marker poles and immediately pulled up. On the second occasion the riders took a turn and came forward from the same spot and in their view the horses were coming in at the same speed as the first occasion, yet the tape was released. They confirmed that they got no direction from the starter on either occasion other than to take a turn. The riders confirmed that they were not cantering into the start for the purposes of gaining an advantage. They also expressed a view that the speed at which they were coming forward on both occasions was similar.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body found as follows:

(i) The starter was correct to report the riders to the stewards as there was a breach of starting procedures.
(ii) The start was poorly positioned and its location should be examined by both officials and riders for future races over this distance.
(iii) The starter was not to blame for the false start.
(iv) There has to be greater co-operation between starters and riders on tight tracks.

Taking into account the above, the Appeals Body allowed the appeals and adjudged there was insufficient evidence to find the riders to be in breach of Rule 208(iii).

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, stipendiary steward. The riders were represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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