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John McConnell (Trainer) and C.D. Walsh (Rider) Referral – Cork 4th April 2021

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Sean Barry (in the chair), Mr. Robert Dore and Mr. Jack Rearden convened at the Curragh Racecourse on Saturday 17th April 2021 to consider the Referral of John McConnell (Trainer) and C.D. Walsh (Rider) following the running and riding of Buto (GB) at Cork on 4th April 2021.

On the day, the Stewards were unable to complete the enquiry due to the Trainer not being present and failing to have an authorised representative present to act on his behalf.

At the Referral Hearing, evidence was heard from Mr. McConnell and Mr. Walsh. The committee also viewed a recording of the race.

In his evidence, Mr. Walsh outlined that his riding instructions on the day were to jump off in the middle to rear of the field, to get his mount jumping and run his race from there. He stated that his mount only jumped okay throughout the race but that he is a horse who is improving his jumping all the time. He added that there wasn’t much of a gallop in the race and he didn’t have much light at some of his hurdles. He also stated that halfway down the back straight his mount gurgled and this continued all the way to the finish. Mr. Walsh accepted that he failed to report this with the Clerk of the Scales after the race.

In his evidence, Mr. McConnell confirmed his instructions were to jump off in the second half of the field, let the horse find his rhythm and then push him out to the line. He said that he had initially watched the race on his phone while saddling a runner at Fairyhouse and on watching the race hadn’t expected Buto to run much better than he did as he was a low grade performer on the Flat and is likely to be the same over hurdles. He outlined the inexperience of Mr. Walsh as a rider and that he was satisfied with the ride for three quarters of the race but he could see why the Stewards wished to interview him after the race. Mr. McConnell added that, having watched the replay again, he was satisfied that the horse had gurgled badly from down the back straight to the finish, but he wouldn’t have been happy with Mr. Walsh if he had pulled him up. He confirmed that his representative on the day, Mr. Ben Harvey, made a report at the scales stating that Buto had gurgled and accepted that the report was not made until 2.44pm, despite an off time off 1.30pm. He also accepted that this report was made a considerable time after the Stewards had attempted to hold the enquiry.

In relation to failing to have an authorised representative nominated on the day, Mr. McConnell accepted the breach and apologised for failing to complete the relevant paperwork.

Having considered the evidence, including a Veterinary report from the IHRB Veterinary Officer on the day that Buto was found to be post-race normal, the Referrals Committee were satisfied that both Trainer and Rider were in breach of Rule 212(A)(ii) in that the horse was not seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the horse a timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible place. Having taken their respective records in this regard into account, The Committee fined Mr. McConnell €2,000, suspended Mr. Walsh for 21 racedays and suspended Buto for 42 days as a consequence of the riders actions. In arriving at this decision, The Committee were of the opinion that Mr. McConnell had not provided them with a satisfactory explanation to relinquish him of his responsibilities under Rule 148(i). Furthermore, Mr. McConnell was fined €130 for failing to lodge the appropriate paperwork for his representative as required under the provisions of Rule 147(v) and Mr. Walsh was cautioned under Rule 213 for failing to make a report, at the first instance, something which may have affected the performance of his mount.


The case was presented by Mr. Liam Walsh, Stipendiary Steward.

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