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Roger Brookhouse (Owner) Appeal – Killarney, 20th July 2017


The Appeals Body, (Division Two), Justice Tony Hunt, (in the chair), Charles Cunningham and John Martin-Smith, met at the Stewards Room, Leopardstown Racecourse, Co. Dublin on Thursday, 27th July 2017 to consider the appeal of Roger Brookhouse, Owner of Stars Over The Sea (USA), winner of the Rentokil Initial (QR) Race against the decision of the stewards at Killarney on 20th July 2017 to void the race.

On the day, following the running of the race, the Stewards held an enquiry into the start of the race and declared the race void as they were of the opinion that a fair start had not been effected.

The grounds of appeal were that the stewards erred in their decision to void the race.

The Appeals Body had considered a transcript of the Steward’s enquiry as well as film and audio recordings of the start.

At the outset, Cliodhna Guy submitted that the Turf Club would not be contesting the appeal. Stephen Lanigan O'Keeffe, on behalf of the Appellant acknowledged this and commended the Turf Club for the approach taken. He said that it was clear, under Rule 209(ii) that it was a fair start as the starter's decision is final.

Having considered the submissions the Appeals Body allowed the appeal and ordered that the original result as declared by the judge be reinstated.

The result now reads:
1st – Stars Over The Sea (USA)
2nd – Ancient Sands
3rd – Clondaw Warrior
4th – The Golden Punto
5th – Go Be A Hero

In arriving at their decision, the Chairman made a number of comments on behalf of the Appeals Body in view of the unusual nature of events.

He acknowledged that the starter has a difficult task and referenced the particular circumstances at the start of this race, where the winner, Stars Over The Seas (USA) gave trouble and was reluctant to line up. Every other rider complied with starter's instructions, which were designed to accommodate the reluctance of Stars Over The Seas (USA).

As a result of the circumstances of the start, the stewards were left with an unsatisfactory situation. It was noted that the stewards were entitled to enquire into the start as serious issues had arisen which were worthy of discussion by the stewards. The time available for such enquiries is limited and the stewards had heard a number of witnesses in a short period of time. Decisions are required to be made by stewards under a certain amount of pressure and in the circumstances, it was an understandable oversight that the implications of Rule 209 may not have been considered.

It was noted that the Turf Club was not contesting the case based on the rules as they stand. That being the case, it was important that the adequacy of the existing rules be reviewed. Under the rules, the starter must make an immediate and final decision on the fairness of that start. Such finality is not appropriate, as the starter frequently has to perform his duties under pressure, just as in this case. It was the Appeals Body opinion that the stewards should to have the ultimate right to review matters including making a decision on fairness as they have more opportunity than the starter and can be assisted by review of video and audio evidence to consider and determine whether a start was fair or not.

The chairman noted that the Turf Club will be carrying out a full investigation into these events, and recommended that regard should be had to how much leeway should be allowed by the starter to horses that do not line up or are difficult to load into stalls, as such behaviour is clearly unfair to other horses and riders who are in compliance with starting rules and directions.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal and Compliance. Roger Brookhouse was represented by Stephen Lanigan O'Keeffe, SC, instructed by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley, Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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