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Andrew Lynch (Rider)/Matthew Smith (Trainer)/Theturnofthesun Appeals Gowran Park, 11th March 2017


The Appeals Body (Division One), Joseph Finnegan (in the Chair), N.B. Wachman and Peter N. Reynolds met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co Kildare on Monday, 27th March 2017 to consider the appeals of Andrew Lynch, Rider and Matthew Smith, Trainer, against the decision of the Stewards at Gowran Park on 11th March 2017. On the day, following the running of the HPR Fleet Management Beginners Steeplechase, the Stewards found there was a breach of Rule 212A(ii) and fined Matthew Smith €2,000, Theturnofthesun was suspended for 42 days and Andrew Lynch was suspended for 5 race days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee.

Appeals were lodged by both parties.

Andrew Lynch’s grounds of appeal was that he did not breach Rule 212 and at all stages his instructions and his own objective, when riding the horse, Theturnofthesun, was to obtain his best possible placing and to use all reasonable and permissible measures to do so.

Matthew Smith’s grounds of appeal was that he was not in breach of Rule 212 and at all stages prior to the race and when instructing the rider, it was his intention and the intention of his father, owner of the horse, that the horse should win or obtain the best possible placing and that his rider should take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure that he did so.

Evidence was heard from Michael Coultard, former head of racing product at Betfair Exchange, Andrew Lynch, Matthew Smith and Andrew Shaw, National Hunt Handicapper. Film of the race was viewed, as was footage of the horse’s previous run at Navan on 19th February 2017. The Appeals Body also considered a transcript of the enquiry held at Gowran Park on 11th March 2017.

In his evidence Michael Courtard provided information on the betting transactions in running on Betfair. He said the horse’s odds shortened from 64/1 before the race to just over 6/1 at the third last fence. He said that backed up the fact that the rider gave it an excellent ride to get within 6 lengths of the leader at that time.

In his evidence Andrew Lynch said he had schooled Theturnofthesun that morning prior to the horse running at Gowran Park and that it was his first run over fences. He said the horse was in good form and schooled well. He said the plan was to jump off with the leaders but he was unable to match the leaders’ pace with the result that he settled in. He said he took the horse out to the middle of the track during the race for better ground. In relation to the way he rode the horse, he said he tried to squeeze the horse along on a number of occasions without taking him out of his comfort zone. He referred to the fall of Dicosimo at the last fence on the first circuit and that his horse subsequently guessed at the same fence and made a mistake. This impacted on the way he jumped at later fences. He said he had two choices at that point namely to chase the leader or sit and try to finish in the best possible position. He felt if he chased the leader he would have given Cloudy Morning a lead. He referred to the ground which the horse had made up between the fifth and third last fences where he went from 11 strides behind the leader to 4 strides. He thought he would finish second in the race at that point. Mr Lynch then referred to the Navan race and stated that Theturnofthesun tired in the race and did not find much when the stick was used. He also said it was longest trip that the horse had run over.

Mr Lynch referred to the effort made by his mount from the third last fence to the finishing line and said the horse would not have finished second if he had used the stick. He said he gave him a slap down the neck but there was no response and he felt the horse was doing his best. He was thrilled at how close he got to Cloudy Morning and the winner and said the made reason he didn’t finish second was that Cloudy Morning was quicker away from the last fence than he was. He also said he did not think that with a more vigorous ride, he would have finished in front of Cloudy Morning.

In response to questions from Shay Quinn, on behalf of the Turf Club, Mr Lynch said that his riding of his horse between the last fence and the finishing line was as strong as he could ride under the circumstances and said that he was squeezing and pushing the horse along.

In his evidence, Matthew Smith referred to the horse’s run at Navan and said it was his first run back after a break. He said the horse had schooled over fences on a number of occasions and that he was fit and well schooled for the Gowran Park race. Mr Smith referred to the instructions given to Andrew Lynch which were to jump him off, get around safely and try your best. He said he thought the horse jumped novicey in places and that he was happy with the ride towards the third last, where his horse had closed to within 6 to 8 lengths to the leader. Mr Smith said he thought Andrew Lynch was doing everything he could on the horse after that and said he was happy the horse got as close as he did to a 111 rated hurdler, as his horse was a maiden over hurdles. He felt the horse resented the use of the stick when he ran at Navan and that he did not think that a more aggressive ride he would have been second. As such it was his view that he would have probably tired sooner if this occurred.

In response to questions from Shay Quinn who referred to the fact that the whip was used on the horse eight times at Navan when ridden by Mr Smith’s brother, Mr Smith said his brother did not make any observation that the horse resisted the whip but in his view he didn’t like it. Mr Smith accepted that Andrew Lynch had ridden at his strongest from the last fence to the finishing line with the exception of using his stick on the horse.

In his evidence Andrew Shaw referred to the respective ratings of the various horses running in the race and said that ratings can vary between hurdles and fences. He said he would have expected Cloudy Morning to finish in front of Theturnofthesun based on their hurdles ratings but such ratings did not always transfer exactly to steeplechasing. He said he would like to see both horses running again prior to giving them a final handicap mark, as it was hard to evaluate their performance based on the way the winner won. Mr Shaw also gave examples of where hurdles and chase ratings for two specific horses can be radically different.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body noted that the issue before them essentially concerns the riding of the horse from the last fence to the finishing line. They accepted that both horses crossed the last fence in close proximity to each other but that Cloudy Morning got away from the last fence quicker. They noted that Theturnofthesun had narrowed the gap with Cloudy Morning to a half a length at the finishing line. Having examined the matter carefully, the Appeals Body were satisfied that with a more energetic ride by Andrew Lynch, who they described as an experienced jockey, Theturnofthesun might have finished second, but that this was irrelevant as insufficient effort was made in their opinion. They accepted the finding of the Stewards that Andrew Lynch was not seen to make a genuine attempt to obtain from the horse timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible place and in the circumstances they dismissed his appeal and ordered the forfeiture of his deposit.

In relation to Matthew Smith, they noted that having given the instructions to the rider, what occurred thereafter was out of the trainer’s hands, particularly what occurred from the last fence to the winning post. In the circumstances they were not satisfied that Matthew Smith was guilty of any rule breach and allowed his appeal.

In relation to Theturnofthesun, the Appeals Body confirmed the suspension of 42 days under the provisions of Rule 212 C (d).

Having considered submissions on penalty in relation to Andrew Lynch, they noted that the penalties imposed by the Stewards were at the lowest end and therefore decided they would not interfere with that penalty and Mr Lynch’s ban of 5 race days remains in place (30th March and 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th April 2017).

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Solicitor and Shay Quinn, Stewards Secretary. Andrew Lynch and Matthew Smith were represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co Kildare.

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