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Michael Winters (Trainer)/Barry John Foley (Rider) Appeals Cork, 19th November 2017

The Appeals Body, (Division One), Mr. Justice Joseph Finnegan, (in the chair), Michael Hickey and Colin Magnier met at the Turf Club, Curragh, Co. Kildare on Wednesday, 29th November 2017 to consider the appeals of Michael Winters, Trainer, against the decision of the Stewards at Cork on 19th November 2017 and of Barry John Foley, Rider, against the severity of the penalty imposed by the Stewards at Cork on 19th November 2017.

On the day, following the running of the Maiden Hurdle, the Stewards enquired into the running and riding of Churchtown Glen, ridden by Barry John Foley, and trained by Michael Winters.

Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards found both Trainer and Rider in breach of Rule 212 A (i), as a result of determining that Churchtown Glen was not allowed to run on his merits in the race. Having considered their records in this regard, the Stewards fined Michael Winters €6,000, suspended Barry John Foley for 21 Racedays and ordered him to forfeit his riding fee, and suspended Churchtown Glen for 90 days.

Appeals were lodged by both Michael Winters and Barry John Foley. The grounds of the appeal by Michael Winters were inter alia that at no stage did he instruct, or request Barry John Foley to prevent Churchtown Glen from running on his merits. Furthermore, he expressed satisfaction with the performance of the horse due to the horse performing well in circumstances where the horse is highly strung, requires careful management at home and has proven a difficult ride on his two previous racecourse appearances.

The grounds of the appeal lodged by Barry John Foley were inter alia that Churchtown Glen is a difficult and unpredictable horse to ride and that in the race itself, the said horse was keen, hung left throughout the race and also jumped to his left at some hurdles. Furthermore, Churchtown Glen suffered considerable interference after turning in during which he lost his position.

Lastly, Barry John Foley is suffering from a lack of confidence as a result of recent suspensions and this affected his riding generally and also in the latter stages of this race.

In his appeal, Barry John Foley acknowledged the finding of the Stewards to the extent that his riding was contrary to the “overall obligation” of Rule 212, thereby to ride the horse to obtain his best possible place, but he denies deliberately or recklessly preventing the horse from running on his merits contrary to Rule 212(A)(i). He further acknowledged and understood that all sections Rule 212 are considered part of single rule and therefore his appeal is against the severity of the penalty imposed only.

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 Jim Duggan B.L and Kevin Power, on behalf of Michael Winters and Barry John Foley and Paul Murtagh on behalf of the Turf Club. In addition, they noted the contents of letters received from Dr. Adrian McGoldrick, Turf Club Senior Medical Officer, James Gordon, Owner, Churchtown Glen, and DW Hutch MVB MRCVS who examined Churchtown Glen on the day after he ran at Cork. .

In his submissions, Jim Duggan B.L. referred to Churchtown Glen’s previous runs and in particular his tendency to hang left. He said the horse was a very green horse but that Barry John Foley knew the horse well.

Mr. Duggan referred to the race and said that Churchtown Glen hung left for the entire race with the result that Barry John Foley tried to keep a horse on his outside the whole way around. He said he lost cover at the 4th hurdle with the result that Churchtown Glen jumped violently left. He said the horse also suffered considerable interference just before the last bend with the result that any chance the horse had of winning or being placed was lost. He said that Barry John Foley was careful riding the horse up the straight and rode him in a particular way as he was fearful of the horse causing interference to horses on his outside. He attributed the ride to a lack of confidence on Barry John Foley’s behalf as a result of him receiving a number of recent suspensions for overuse of the whip. He said he kept the horse as straight as he could in the latter stages of the race with horses outside and he denied that Barry John Foley ever tried to stop the prevent the horse from running on its merits.

Mr. Duggan confirmed that the instructions given to Barry John Foley were to jump off in the middle of the field and to do the best he could. He reiterated that there was never a suggestion that the horse should be stopped. Mr. Duggan referred to the high quality of the race and said that connections would have been astounded if the horse had won in view of this. Reference was also made to the post-race report made by the rider to the clerk of the scales that “his mount hung badly left and jumped left”.

In his submission, Paul Murtagh said that while the Turf Club accepted that the horse ran keenly and showed signs of greenness and inexperience, leaning left and jumping left on occasions, he wasn’t hanging as bad as was alleged. He said the Turf Club also accepted that there was interference shortly after turning into the home straight. However, in his view, it was clear from the head-on film footage that the horse was being deliberately prevented from going forward particularly from the third last hurdle onwards when the race was really developing. He referred to the “zig zag” running pattern of Churchtown Glen in the latter stages of the race and reiterated that this was caused by the horse being deliberately restrained. He submitted that the horse jumped the last three hurdles fairly straight and appeared to run straight when the rider took one hand off the reins after the last hurdle.

Having considered the evidence, Mr. Justice Joseph Finnegan, chairman of the Appeals Body said that the function of the Appeals Body is to review the evidence that was before the Stewards at Cork. It was not a rehearing of evidence. He said they had considered the transcript of the original evidence and viewed the recording of the race.

He said that the Appeals Body accepted that the horse presented difficulties during the race and based on the facts as outlined, they had to decide if the Stewards were correct to come to the conclusions that they did based on the evidence before them. Having considered the submissions on the evidence and all other relevant facts, the Appeals Body found that there was no fault in the decision arrived at and dismissed both appeals.

In relation to penalty, the Appeals Body considered a number of submissions in relation to both Michael Winters and Barry John Foley in relation to their personal circumstances and the effect that the original penalties would have on them.

In deciding on penalty, the Appeals Body found that there was no error in the original fine imposed on Michael Winters and that any breach of this rule should attract a significant penalty. However, on the other side, there noted that Michael Winters was a small trainer who had not breached this rule before. In view of this they reduced the fine imposed to €4,500.

In relation to Barry John Foley, the Appeals Body also agreed that 21 days was an appropriate penalty for such an offence. However, they noted that there were other issues which needed to be taken into account namely the medical report and also the recent suspensions imposed on him for breaches of the whip rule which may have compromised his riding style. They also noted that he had a clean record in respect of the rule breach. Taking all these matters into account, they reduced the penalty imposed from 21 racedays to 14 racedays (3,7,9,10,14,16,17,26,27,28,29,31 December 2017 and 1,6 January 2018) and ordered that his riding fee be forfeited. They also ordered that both appeal deposits be forfeited.

In relation to the horse, Churchtown Glen, they could find no reason to reduce the suspension and confirmed the suspension of 90 days.

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Head of Raceday Operations and Cliodhna Guy, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance. Michael Winters and Barry John Foley were represented by Jim Duggan B.L. instructed by Kevin Power, Maurice Power, Solicitors, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick.

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