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J.A. Heffernan (Rider) Referral – The Curragh 26th September 2020

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Peter M. Allen (in the chair) Mr. Laurence McFerran and Mr. John Murphy convened at Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on 8th October 2020 to consider a request from the Keeper of the Match Book to review the sanction of a penalty of two racedays imposed on J.A. Heffernan (Rider) for a breach of Regulation 10.3 at The Curragh on 26th September 2020 on the basis that this penalty was too lenient given Mr. Heffernan’s previous record.


On the day, following the running of the Qatar Racing Renaissance Stakes, the Stewards found Mr. Heffernan in breach of Regulation 10.3(g), in that he had used his whip with excessive frequency and they suspended him for two racedays. On the 29th September 2020, the Keeper of the Match Book wrote to the Referrals Committee to ask them to review the sanction imposed as it was unduly lenient. The request was made under the provisions of Rule 27(i)(a).


Evidence was heard from Mr. Heffernan, submissions were made on behalf of the IHRB by Ms. Cliodhna Guy and the Referrals Committee also watched a recording of the race.


In her submissions Ms. Guy noted that on the 26th September 2020 the Stewards had not been advised that the breach of the whip regulations was Mr. Heffernan’s fourth offence in a 12 month rolling period and therefore in accordance with Regulation R10.6(a) a sanction of at least 6 days should have been imposed. She noted that this arose as a result of human error in reading the record. In his evidence, Mr. Heffernan noted that he had only breached the regulation by one strike but he accepted that it was his fourth breach within a 12 month period and had been informed that the Stewards on the day should have imposed six days suspension under the Regulation.


Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee refused the application to review the sanction in accordance with Rule 27(vi). The Committee stated that the issue had arisen as a result of a clerical error on the day and not because the Stewards had intentionally disregarded the requirements of the Regulation and in those exceptional circumstances it would not be appropriate to review the sanction.


The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal, Licensing and Compliance.

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