Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Integrity Portal

C.G. O’Dwyer (Rider) and John P. McManus (Owner) Appeal – Ballinrobe 22nd August 2022

The Appeals Body (Division 2), Mr. Robert Dore (in the chair), Mr. Peter Law and Mr. Jack Rearden convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Wednesday, 31st August 2022 to consider the appeal of Charlie O’Dwyer (Rider) and John P. McManus (Owner) against the decision of the Stewards at Ballinrobe on 22nd August 2022 to suspend Mr. O’Dwyer for 10 racedays and to suspend Can’t Stop Smiling, owned by Mr. McManus for a period of 42 days.

On the day, the Stewards found Mr. O’Dwyer in breach of Rule 212A(ii) by riding in such a way that his mount could not be seen to be the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the Horse timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible place. Furthermore, the Stewards using their powers under Rule 14(iii), suspended Can’t Stop Smiling for 42 days under the provisions of Rule 212C(d)

The grounds of appeal lodged by Mr. O’Dwyer was against the severity of the sanction imposed and the grounds of appeal lodged by Mr. McManus was that it was unfair to impose a penalty on the owner as the rider had admitted and accepted that the ride in question was misjudged.

At the Appeal Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. Frank Berry, Racing Manager to Mr. McManus, and submissions were heard from Mr. Kevin Power, Solicitor, on behalf of Mr. O’Dwyer and Mr. McManus. The panel also viewed a recording of the race.

In his evidence, Mr. Berry explained that he didn’t attend Ballinrobe on the night in question but had agreed instructions with Can’t Stop Smiling’s trainer, Aidan Howard and spoke with Mr. O’Dwyer by phone with those instructions prior to the race. Mr. Berry stated the instructions were to be mid division, give the horse plenty of light and to do the best he could from there. Mr. Berry suggested that the false start had inconvenienced Can’t Stop Smiling as she can be buzzy and Mr. O’Dwyer went from having a nice position for the first start but being much worse off for the second start. However, Mr. Berry said he felt that the horse had settled into the race on the first circuit but when a group of horses became detached passing the stands that Mr. O’Dwyer had got caught out and as a result they were too far out of the race and this was an error on Mr. O’Dwyer’s part, which Mr. O’ Dwyer immediately accepted after the race and in the Stewards Enquiry. Mr. Berry explained that the horse had run well at Ballinrobe previously and that she was expected to run well on this occasion, she did run well but could have potentially finished closer and it was the nature of a race such as this, for novice horses and novice riders, that these things can happen.

In his submissions on behalf of Mr. O’Dwyer, Mr. Power stated that Mr. O’Dwyer was an inexperienced rider and that he had made an honest mistake which he had very openly admitted in the Stewards Enquiry on the evening. He stated that it was a novice race for novice horses and riders and that Can’t Stop Smiling had just ducked away slightly at the start of the race and missed the first hurdle which left Mr. O’Dwyer in a position he didn’t intend to be in during the race. Mr. Power added that Mr. O’Dwyer could be seen making a substantial effort on the horse from the second last hurdle when the race opened up for him.

In his submissions on behalf of Mr. McManus, Mr. Power suggested that the penalty on the owner was draconian in light of the rider admitting that he had made a misjudgement and that the nature of such races are to allow riders to gain experience.

Having considered the evidence, Mr. Dore issued the following decision on behalf of the panel.  

“The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has a duty to protect the integrity of Irish racing and protect the interests of the racing public and it is because of this that Rule 212 is couched in the draconian terms that it is and it is quite clear that a breach of Rule 212 is a very serious breach of the rules. In Rule 212C(d) there is a discretion and twice in the rules the word ‘may’ is used rather than ‘shall’ in relation to suspending the horse. However, this discretion should be exercised in the context of the introductory paragraphs of Rule 212 which states: “Having regard to the importance, for the health (including financial health) of the sport and industry of racing and breeding, of each Horse competing in each Race being seen to have been given a full opportunity of obtaining the best possible place there is an overall obligation on all persons who have any involvement with the running and riding of a Horse in a Race to ensure that the Horse concerned runs on its merits and is also seen, to a reasonable and informed member of the racing public, to have been run on its merits. In that context it is the obligation of all such persons to ensure that the racecourse is not used as a training ground and that all Horses, including Horses having their first run, must be ridden, and be seen to be ridden, to attain the best possible place and must not be deliberately eased before passing the winning post without good reason. In the light of the overriding obligation referred to and the need for it to be seen to be the case that all such persons have taken all reasonable and permissible measures in relation to the running and riding of the Horse concerned to ensure that it has been given, and has been seen to have been given, a full opportunity of obtaining the best possible place, the following specific rules are required. Rules 212, 212A, 212B and 212C are to be considered part of a single rule.”

This committee is satisfied that there has been a breach of Rule 212A(ii) and in the manner of the appeal by Mr. O’Dwyer, this breach has been admitted. The guidelines provide for a minimum sanction of 10 days and in these circumstances Mr. O’Dwyer has got the benefit of the minimum sanction and we therefore dismiss his appeal.

Then we ask was the decision of the Stewards to impose the minimum 42 days disqualification on the horse on the day perverse and this committee does not believe so and in light of the precedent that has been opened to us, we would in fact find it perverse if that sanction had not been imposed, and we therefore dismiss the appeal.”

The case was presented by Mr. Michael Daly, IHRB Regulatory Advisor. Mr. O’Dwyer and Mr. McManus were represented by Mr. Kevin Power of Maurice Power Solicitors, Kilmallock, County Limerick.


Dates of suspension for Mr. O'Dwyer: 5th, 9th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 23rd and 24th September 

Copyright © 2018, I.H.R.B, All Rights Reserved.