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Aubrey McMahon (Rider) Appeal – Tramore, 1st January 2019

The Appeals Body (Division One), Mr. Justice Joseph Finnegan (in the chair), Mr. John Murphy and Mr. N.B. Wachman convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) on Friday, 18thand Friday, 25th January 2019 to consider the appeal of A. McMahon (Rider) against the decision of the Stewards at Tramore on 1st January 2019.

On the day, following the running of the David Flynn Building Contractors Maiden Hurdle, the Stewards enquired into the running and riding of Batcio (FR), ridden by Mr. McMahon, and trained by T. M. Walsh. Evidence was heard from the rider and the trainer. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards noted Mr. Walsh’s explanation. The Stewards were satisfied that the rider had breached Rule 212 (A)(ii). As a result, the Stewards suspended Mr. McMahon for 5 racedays and as a consequence of the rider’s actions Batcio (FR) was suspended for 42 days in accordance with Rule 212(d).

The grounds of Appeal lodged by Mr. McMahon were that the Stewards erred in their decision to find him in breach of Rule 212(A)(ii) and to suspend Batcio (FR) as a consequence. 

Prior to any evidence being heard, the Appeals Body considered a number of issues raised by Patrick Kennedy, solicitor, on behalf of Mr. McMahon dealing with:

  1. Admissibility of Expert and Opinion evidence
  2. Newspaper reports and Social Media postings
  3. An application by the Appellant that for the finding under Rule 212A(ii) a finding under Rule 212A(iv) should be substituted

At the hearing, the Appeals Body gave oral decisions in respect of each matter and stated that they would follow up these decisions with written reasons. The written reasons were issued to all parties on 25th January 2019 and can be downloaded by clicking here.

Evidence was heard from Mr. McMahon, Ruby Walsh, rider and Patrick Mullins, rider. The Appeals Body viewed a recording of the race and considered a transcript of the original evidence. They also viewed recordings of the horse’s previous runs at Galway on 30th July; where Batcio (FR) unseated Mr. McMahon on the way to the start and was withdrawn, Galway on 17th September and Punchestown on 28th November. In addition, they viewed recordings of Mr. McMahon winning on Whiskey Sour at Galway on 31st July 2017 and Uradel (GER) at Galway on 30th July 2018.

In his evidence, Mr. McMahon said that his father had originally bought Batcio (FR) with a view to giving him riding experience. He stated that he had seven rides over hurdles prior to riding at Tramore and that it was his first ride over hurdles at Tramore. Mr. McMahon said that he arrived early at Tramore and walked the track. He also said he got permission from the Stewards to go down early to the start.

Mr. McMahon confirmed his instructions were to drop Batcio (FR) in and get him settled. He outlined how the race went and referred to the fallers on the flat in the early part of the race. He also stated that he felt that the hill down into the straight rode slippy. Mr. McMahon said that when he is riding he is always cognizant of where the main riders are in the race and would monitor their movements closely. He referred to a number of horses that passed him during the race but stated that he was not concerned about that as he knew he would pass them out later on.

Mr. McMahon stated that the Tramore run was the horse’s best run over hurdles and he attributed this to holding on to the horse for as long as he did. He said that he made his effort at the bend on the turn into the straight and suggested that if he had held onto the horse longer that he may have finished even closer. Mr. McMahon stated that he rode the horse the whole way to the finishing line.

Mr. McMahon said he knows and understands the rules and that he agreed with what Mr. Walsh, Trainer, had said at the original enquiry, which was that considering the way Batcio (FR) finished if he had made more use of him that he would have been a couple of horses closer.

In conclusion, Mr. McMahon highlighted where he made an effort during the race and stated that he felt the horse finished tired.

In his evidence, Ruby Walsh outlined the difficulties of riding at Tramore because of its undulations. He said that riders need to be more aware of preservation of energy and stressed the importance of sitting on your mount as you come down the hill.

In his evidence, Patrick Mullins outlined how he felt Tramore should be ridden. The Appeals Body agreed that there was no need for him to give further evidence as they were accepting that it would be in line with that given by Mr. Walsh.

In arriving at their decision, the Appeals Body stated that they had to decide whether or not Mr. McMahon complied with the requirements of the rule in the context of Batcio (FR) being seen to a reasonable and informed member of the racing public to have been run on his merits. They accepted that Mr. McMahon had not deliberately prevented Batcio (FR) from running on his merits. However, having considered the evidence the Appeals Body found that they were not satisfied that a reasonable and informed member of the racing public would not have arrived at the same view as the stewards with regard to the way the horse was ridden and as such, they dismissed the appeal.

Having considered submissions on penalty, the Appeals Body ordered that the original penalty of 5 racedays on the rider remain in place (January 26th, 27th, 29th, February 2nd and 3rd). They also ordered that the suspension of 42 days on Batcio (FR) remain in place but they backdated the commencement date to 2nd January 2019. With consent of the IHRB they ordered that the appeal deposit should be returned.

The case was presented by Louis Weston, Barrister and Paul Murtagh, Head of Raceday Operations.

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