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Gordon Elliott (Trainer)/Jack Kennedy (Rider) Appeals Down Royal, 4th November 2017

The Appeals Body, (Division One), Mr. Justice Joseph Finnegan, (in the chair), Philip McLernon and John Powell met at the Turf Club, Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 20th November 2017 to consider the appeals of Gordon Elliott, Trainer, and Jack Kennedy, Rider, against the decisions of the Stewards at Down Royal on 4th November 2017.

On the day, following the running of the Tayto Group Maiden Hurdle, the Stewards enquired into the running and riding of Suitor (GB), ridden by Jack Kennedy, and trained by Gordon Elliott. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards found there had been a breach of Rule 212A (ii) and having taken their respective records into account, the Stewards imposed a fine of €2,000 on the trainer through his representative, suspended Suitor (GB) from running for a period of 42 days and suspended Jack Kennedy for five race days and ordered the forfeiture of his riding fee.

Appeals were lodged by both Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy. The grounds of the appeal are inter alia that Jack Kennedy made reasonable and adequate effort to ensure the horse obtained his best possible placing in circumstances where his horse’s jumping lacked fluency throughout the race which, in a race run at a fast pace, resulted in his horse losing his position and being too far out of his ground to mount an effective challenge to the leaders.

Evidence was heard from Gordon Elliott. The Appeals Body also considered a transcript of the original evidence and viewed the recording of the race. They further considered a number of submissions from Kevin Power, on behalf of Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy and Paul Murtagh on behalf of the Turf Club.

In his evidence Gordon Elliott outlined how he came to acquire the horse and gave some history of the horse as well as the horse’s training regime in the lead up to the race. He said the horse was well schooled and was as fit as he could have him.

Mr. Elliott said that he gave the instructions to Jack Kennedy prior to the meeting as he was in the USA when the race took place. He confirmed that the instructions were to jump out mid division, give the horse plenty of light and get him jumping. He also said that he instructed that the horse was to be presented well at the hurdles and to finish in the best possible place.

Mr. Elliott said he thought that Jack Kennedy gave the horse a good ride. He noted that the horse jumped carefully and was back further during the race than was ideal. He also noted that the horse was slow away from some hurdles. He said he was happy with the ride and that the rider did what was best for the horse. He felt that the horse would not have obtained a better placing if the rider was harder on the horse and there was no way he could have challenged for first or second place. He concluded by saying that the owners were thrilled at the way the horse ran.

In his submission, Kevin Power said that the Appeals Body needed to be satisfied that Suitor (GB) would have finished second in order to find that there was a breach of the rule. He said that the horse finished in the best possible place and in the circumstances, third was the best possible place that the horse could have obtained as he was never travelling well enough to do better.

In his submission, Paul Murtagh said that Suitor (GB) could have challenged the winner and runner up if Jack Kennedy had made real, timely and substantial effort. He said that the problem arose from the fourth last hurdle where the leading bunch got away from Suitor (GB) and thereafter there was only minimal effort from the rider. He said that Suitor (GB) passed four horses from the second last to the finishing line and reiterated that the horse was not given a full opportunity of obtaining his best possible place.

Having considered the evidence, the chairman of the Appeals Body made a number of observations. He referred to the conduct of cases in the Supreme Court and the fact that an appeal is a rehearing doesn’t mean that it is a rehearing of all the evidence. He said that the Appeals Body had to consider arguments based on findings of fact at the original hearing and findings of fact unsupported by evidence. He said the hearing today proceeded on written evidence and video evidence and that the Appeals Body can review the evidence and take a different view if it is appropriate to do so.

In this case, the Appeals Body were not satisfied that the requirements for a breach of the rule were established before the stewards. It was not clear that the horse wasn’t ridden to obtain its best possible place. Based on the weight of evidence and the interpretation of video evidence, the offence was not made out by the evidence. Therefore the appeals were allowed and the Appeals Body ordered the return of both deposits.

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Head of Raceday Operations and Cliodhna Guy, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance. Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy were represented by Kevin Power, Maurice Power, Solicitors, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick.

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