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James J. O'Neill/Mrs. P. Dobbs (Sligo 15 July) Appeal Hearing

The Appeals Body, John Powell (in the Chair), P.J.A. O’Connor and Peter M. Allen met in the Stewards Room, Galway Racecourse, Ballybrit, Co. Galway on Wednesday, 1st August 2012 to consider the appeal of James Joseph O’Neill and Mrs. Prunella Dobbs, owner and trainer respectively of Face Facts, against the decision of the Stewards at Sligo on 15th July 2012, not to reverse the placings of first and second even though they found that the winner Bondage had interfered with the runner up Face Facts.

The grounds of appeal lodged was that the Stewards erred in their decision in that they failed to promote Face Facts to first place following a stewards’ enquiry as the interference which took place was such that Bondage impeded Face Facts and improved his position as a result.
Evidence was heard from B.R. Dalton, rider Face Facts, Mrs. Prunella Dobbs and K.M. Donoghue, rider Bondage.  Film of the race was also viewed.

In his evidence B.R. Dalton said that his horse was idling in front and rallied when Bondage came alongside him.  He said he was unable to pull his stick through to his left hand as Bondage was leaning and bumping his horse for most of the run in.  He said he was unable to keep a straight line due to the bumping and felt that he would have won if he was allowed run in a straight line without interference, particularly in view of the short head margin he was beaten by.  In response to a question from Conal Boyce (solicitor), B.R. Dalton said he was more sure today that he would have won than he was in the stewards room at Sligo, as he was very nervous at the original enquiry because it was only the second ever enquiry he attended.

In her evidence Mrs. Prunella Dobbs said that her horse is a battler and that he ran on well when Bondage ranged alongside.  She also said that Face Facts is not a difficult ride.

In his evidence K.M. Donoghue said that he felt some of the interference was caused by Face Facts.  He said he had to put his stick down in the last 50 yards as his horse became unbalanced.  He also said that the interference cost him more momentum than it cost Fact Facts.  In conclusion, he said that both horses were responsible for the bumping and that both jockeys had their whips in the wrong hands.  In response to a question from Andrew Coonan (solicitor), he acknowledged that he didn’t appeal the one day ban imposed on him for careless riding which arose out of the incident.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body allowed the appeal and ordered that the result be amended to read as follows:-

First:  Face Facts
Second: Bondage
Third:  Kalmez
Fourth:  Irish Poli (FR)

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  James Joseph O’Neill and Mrs. Prunella Dobbs were represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  Patrick Reidy, Reidy Stafford Solicitors, Newbridge, Co. Kildare acted as legal assessor.

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