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D.P. McDonogh (Rider) Appeal - Gowran Park, 9th May 2018

 The Appeals Body (Division 1), Justice Joseph Finnegan (in the chair), Laurence McFerran and Michael Hickey met at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) on Monday 21st May, 2018 to consider the Appeal of D.P. McDonogh (Rider) against the decision of the Stewards at Gowran Park on 9th May, 2018.

On the day, following the running of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (Fillies) Handicap, the Stewards enquired into the running and riding of Knowing You ridden by D.P. McDonogh and trained by D.K. Weld. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards noted Mr Weld’s explanation; however, the Stewards found D.P. McDonogh in breach of Rule 212A(ii) and therefore suspended him from riding for 5 race days and also ordered that he forfeit the riding fee.

The grounds of Appeal lodged were that the Stewards were incorrect in determining that D.P. McDonogh was in breach of Rule 212A(ii) and the five day suspension imposed was excessive and severe in view of the situations he found himself in during the middle and closing stages of the race.

Evidence was heard from J.P. O’Donnell, MVB, MRCVS, D.K. Weld and D.P. McDonogh. The Appeals Body also considered a transcript of the original evidence and viewed a recording of the race.

In his evidence, J.P. O’Donnell said that he examined Knowing You at Mr. Weld’s Training Establishment on 10th May 2018 and found that the filly showed signs of having been in season. He said that not all fillies react the same to being in season and that this may have been a reason she was sluggish during the race. He said he couldn’t comment as to whether or not that was the reason for the filly’s performance in this race.

In his evidence, D.K. Weld referred to Knowing You and said she was a very lightly raced filly that had run five times. He said that he did not know that she may have been in season on the day until Mr. O’Donnell’s report to him after examining the filly.

In relation to the run, Mr. Weld said he was disappointed with it and was mildly critical of the way the filly was ridden as he had asked the rider to come with his run up the outside where he was less likely to encounter trouble. He said the interference caused to the filly effectively ended any chance she had of winning the race. He accepted that the ride did not look good to a lay person and felt that the rider should have been harder on the filly. However, if the rider was of the view that the filly wasn’t responding, he could understand why the rider wasn’t more vigorous. Mr. Weld accepted that the filly had winning form on heavy ground and that she handled the ground.

The evidence given by Declan McDonogh related to part of the race about 4 furlongs out where Knowing You lost her position relative to two horses around her. He said he didn’t pressurise the filly at that time as he was trying to help her get through deep ground and then gave her time to recover before recommencing his run. He accepted that he didn’t ride the horse as vigorously as he normally does but said that every race and every horse is different.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body dismissed the appeal. In arriving at their decision, they found that the manner in which Knowing You was ridden in the last 1½ furlongs was incompatible with the provisions of Rule 212A(ii) as the riding of D.P. McDonogh was such that the horse cannot be seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the horse timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible place.

The Appeals Body considered a number of submissions on penalty. They noted that this was the first time in his long career that D.P. McDonogh had been found guilty of a breach of this rule. They accepted that five racedays and the forfeiture of the riding fee was an appropriate penalty for a first breach of the rule. However, they noted that the circumstances of this case were different in view of Mr. McDonogh’s previous record and the fact that the imposition of a five raceday penalty would hit the Appellant more onerously than in most cases as two of the five racedays were on days when Group One races were scheduled and in which Mr. McDonogh had booked rides. Taking the extraordinary and special circumstances of this case into account, the Appeals Body felt that it would be unfair and unduly onerous to impose the normal penalty and as such, they reduced the penalty from five racedays to three racedays (May 25th, 29th and 30th) and ordered that D.P. McDonogh forfeit his riding fee. They also ordered that he forfeit his appeal deposit.

D.P. McDonogh was represented by Frank Ward of Frank Ward Solicitors, Equity House, Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin.

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Head of Raceday Operations and Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal, Compliance & Licensing.

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