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D.J. O’Keeffe (Rider) Appeal – Wexford 16th May 2021

The Appeals Body (Division 2) Mr. Sean Barry (in the chair), Mrs. T.K. Cooper and Mr. John Murphy convened at Punchestown Racecourse on Monday 31st May 2021 to consider the appeal of D.J. O’Keeffe (Rider) against the decision of the Stewards at Wexford on 16th May 2021.


On the day, following the running of the Good Enuf To Eat Banqueting Handicap Chase, the Stewards found Mr. O’Keeffe, rider of Ah Littleluck, in breach of Rule 214 in that he had ridden carelessly and having considered his record suspended him for two racedays.


The grounds of appeal lodged by Mr. O’Keeffe were that the Stewards on the day erred in their decision.


At the Appeal Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. O’Keeffe and Mr. Enda Bolger, Trainer. The committee also watched a recording of the race.


In his evidence, Mr. O’Keeffe stated that he was familiar with the horse having ridden him before and outlined that the horse does have a tendency to hang to both his left and his right. He said that on the day, the ground conditions were very heavy and that the horses were finishing quite tired. Mr. O’Keeffe accepted that his mount, Ah Littleluck, had interfered with Wrong Direction, ridden by Denis O’Regan, at the second last fence but he stated that his mount had got tired and began to jump left just at the take-off side of the fence causing him to jump across Mr. O’Regan’s mount. He said that the move was as a result of the testing conditions and the horse tiring and that he had not got time before the horse jumped the fence to use any corrective measures. On viewing a recording of the incident, Mr. O’Keeffee also pointed out that, in his opinion, Mr. O’Regan’s mount had jumped right as well as his own mount jumping left at the second last fence. He also pointed out that due to the position of the parade ring gate and the nature of the track at Wexford he had his whip in his right hand going to the second last fence, as did the other riders behind him at this point. Mr. O’Keeffe concluded that he had taken all reasonable measures to prevent contact by coming wider of Mr. O’Regan turning into the straight and he could do no more.


In his evidence, Mr. Bolger explained that he had a runner that evening and that the weather conditions had been extremely bad that day and had left the ground quite testing which was resulting in tiring horses at the finish of races. He stated he had left the racecourse at the time of this race but when asked by Mr. O’Keeffe to review the recording he felt that Ah Littleluck had jumped left in mid-air and there was little the rider could have done to prevent the action. Mr. Bolger added that his experience of Wexford was that the last two fences in the straight lend horses to go to their left a little and this may also have been a factor on the day.


Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body were satisfied that there was little opportunity for Mr. O’Keeffe to take steps to avoid the contact that happened and there was nothing further he could have done in the circumstances and therefore allowed the appeal.


The case was presented by Mr. Liam Walsh, Stipendiary Steward and Mr. O’Keeffe was represented by Andrew Coonan of Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, County Kildare.

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