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W.J. Lee (Rider) Referral – Galway 4th August 2019

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt, (in the chair), Mr. Laurence McFerran and Mr. Philip McLernon convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), The Curragh, Co Kildare on 19th August 2019 to consider the referral of W.J. Lee (Rider) by the Stewards at Galway on 4th August 2019.

On the day, following the running of the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden the Stewards wished to enquire into a possible breach of Regulation 10(3) having received a report from Dr. Lynn Hillyer (IHRB Chief Veterinary Officer and Head Of Anti-Doping) that Raven’s Cry, ridden by Mr. Lee, was found to be marked by the whip on post-race examination. Mr. Lee had confirmed to the Stewards that he had three previous offences under R10(3) since the new Regulations came into effect. Having considered the video, photographic evidence and the rider’s acceptance of his disciplinary record in this regard, the Stewards, in accordance with the provisions of R10(3), referred the matter to the Referrals Committee for their consideration.

The Referrals Committee viewed the photographic evidence and a recording of the race.

Evidence was heard from Mr. Lee, Dr. Lynn Hillyer (IHRB Chief Veterinary Officer and Head of Anti-Doping), Vincent O’Connor (Veterinary Surgeon), Warren O’Connor (Jockey Coach) and Paddy Twomey, trainer of Raven’s Cry.

In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer described to the Committee her report to the Stewards on the day of the whip marks on Raven’s Cry just above the stifle region which were present when the filly was sampled 40 minutes after the race and also about two hours after the race when she was re-examined at the request of Mr. Lee.

Mr. Vincent O’Connor gave his opinion that the whip marks could have showed up more predominately than normal on a filly such as Raven’s Cry who would have low body fat and who may also have been dehydrated on what was a very warm afternoon.

Mr. Warren O’Connor stated that he had been working with Mr. Lee for a number of months since the new whip regulations came into effect. It was his opinion that Mr. Lee had done nothing wrong in this particular race and suggested that it may have been the angle at which the whip made contact rather than excessive force which caused the marks on Raven’s Cry.

Mr. Twomey told the Committee that this filly had particularly sensitive skin and that she marked very easily, which also resulted in two marks on her wither from where the saddle sits.

Mr. Lee accepted that his whip had marked Raven’s Cry in this race. He added that he felt he had not altered his style in this race in any way and that he was surprised to be called into an Enquiry as it was the first time in his career of 17 seasons that he had marked a horse with his whip.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee found that they were unable to determine if the manner in which the whip was used by Mr. Lee had resulted in a breach of R10(3) and therefore took no further action.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance. Mr. Lee was represented by Patrick Kennedy of Patrick J. O'Meara & Co. Solicitors, Liberty Square, Thurles, Co Tipperary.


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