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A.P. O’Brien (Trainer)/W.M. Lordan (Rider)/Music Box Appeals – Dundalk, 31st March 2017


The Appeals Body, (Division One), Joseph Finnegan, (in the chair), T.L. Crawford and N.P. Lambert, met at the Turf Club, Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 10th April 2017 to consider the appeals of A.P. O’Brien, (Trainer) and W.M. Lordan, (Rider) against the decision of the stewards at Dundalk on 31st March 2017.

On the day, following the running of the Dundalk Stadium Light Up Your Nights Maiden, the stewards found that A.P. O’Brien and W.M. Lordan were in breach of Rule 212(A)(ii) and (iii). As a result, they imposed a fine of €2,000 on A.P. O’Brien, suspended W.M. Lordan for 5 race days and ordered that he forfeit his riding fee and suspended Music Box for 42 days.

A.P. O’Brien’s grounds of appeal were that W.M. Lordan was instructed to get Music Box to relax in the early stages and then ride her to obtain her best possible placing thereafter. At all times the intention was for Music Box to obtain her best possible placing and win if possible.

W.M. Lordan’s grounds of appeal was that it was the filly’s first run, she got agitated in the stalls, jumped slow when the stalls opened and was green in running as a result of which she got behind runners early. Thereafter when he started to make his challenge in the straight, the horse he was tracking (Pennsylvania USA) looked to move towards the inside rail and he moved his filly to the right to come between horses. He then met with interference which prevented him delivering a timely challenge to the first and second placed horses. Thereafter he rode Music Box hands and heels.

Evidence was heard from A.P. O’Brien and W.M Lordan. Film of the race was also viewed as was film of a race at Leopardstown on 5th April 2017.

In his evidence, W.M. Lordan said his instructions were to relax the horse during the race, make the best of his way home and to try and avoid hitting the filly if possible.

He described the filly as nervous and said she was loaded first into the stalls. She jumped slowly at the start and didn’t travel great during the race. He said she also suffered from the kickback. Between the 2 furlong and 1 furlong maker when he was making his initial run, Pennsylvania (USA), who was in front of him, edged slightly left. As a result he switched Music Box and she had to go across the track to get a run. He said he was trying to encourage the filly as best he could in the latter stages of the race and that it took a bit of organising after the switch to get her balanced.

When put to Mr Lordan that he should have switched his filly left as there was plenty of room, he said that he switched to follow the best horse and that after the switch the initial gap he intended to go for closed, which meant he had to go across further to get a run. He reiterated that he was doing his best the whole way up the straight. He said Music Box would not have finished any closer with a stronger drive. which is why she was ridden differently.

Film of a race from Leopardstown on 5th April 2017 was also viewed to illustrate the difference in W.M. Lordan’s riding style on a first time out filly, as compared to the way he rode Music Box. In his evidence he said that the filly he rode at Leopardstown was a different type of filly with different traits which is why she was ridden differently.

In his evidence, A.P. O’Brien confirmed the instructions as outlined by W.M. Lordan. He said the filly was a nervous filly which he only got this year. He said he was delighted with the way things went. He had no problem with the decision the rider made to switch to the centre of the track and not to go up the rail, as Pennsylvania (USA) which he trains, was wearing blinkers and a hood and could have drifted in.

Mr O’Brien confirmed that all his horses do their best and that his horses are always fit first time they run. He said it was bizarre to think that Music Box wasn’t doing her best. He reiterated that he was delighted with the ride and said that circumstances don’t always work out to enable a rider get a clear run.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body found that A.P. O’Brien and W.M. Lordan were in breach of Rule 212A(ii) as they were of the opinion that W.M. Lordan was not seen to make a genuine attempt to obtain from the horse timely, real and substantial effort to obtain the best possible placing.

Taking all the circumstances into account they did not believe that either A.P. O’Brien or W.M. Lordan were in breach of Rule 212 A(iii) and allowed the appeal in respect of that rule breach.

The Appeals Body confirmed the findings of the Stewards with regard to penalty and fined A.P. O’Brien €2,000. They suspended W.M. Lordan for 5 race days (15th, 17th, 20th, 21st and 22nd April 2017) and ordered that he forfeit his riding fee. They also confirmed the 42 day suspension on Music Box. Both deposits were also forfeited.

The case was presented by Shay Quinn, stewards secretary and Cliodhna Guy, solicitor.

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