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David Russell Appeal - Clonmel 4 December 2014

The Appeals Body (Division Two), N.B. Wachman (in the Chair), Peter N. Reynolds and Mrs. J. O. Onions met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Tuesday 16th December 2014 to consider an appeal from David Russell, rider, against the decision of the Stewards at Clonmel on 4th December 2014. On that date the Stewards found that he was in breach of Rule 272 following an enquiry into an incident which took place in the Powerstown Handicap Hurdle on the turn for home on the first circuit involving his mount Leave At Dawn, and Backinyourbox, ridden by P.T. Enright, where it appeared he received a whip from P.T. Enright after he lost his own whip earlier in the race. As a result he was suspended for 5 race days.

His grounds of appeal were that that the Stewards were wrong in their decision to charge him with a breach of Rule 272.

The Committee considered a number of submissions from Patrick Kennedy, solicitor on behalf of David Russell, and Conal Boyce, solicitor on behalf of the Turf Club.  The Committee also considered a transcript of the evidence given at the original Stewards enquiry.  Film of the incident was also viewed.

In his submission Patrick Kennedy said that David Russell accepted the evidence he gave as recorded on the transcript was correct and that he did ask Philip Enright for  his whip, which he received.  Mr Kennedy said the Stewards on the day erred in prosecuting his client under Rule 272 as it was not the correct rule, and as a result his client’s appeal should be allowed.  He said it was not now possible for the Appeals Body to charge his client with any other rule breach. 

Mr Kennedy also referred to a similar incident which occurred in Great Britain some years ago and in that case the rider was charged with improper riding.  He also referred to articles in the various trade papers and noted that there was no adverse comment which proved his case that his client’s actions did not damage the good reputation of horseracing.

In summary he said his client’s actions were not premeditated and that he obtained the best possible placing on Leave At Dawn.  He reiterated that there was no public outcry as a result of what occurred.

In his submission Conal Boyce said that when the race started both riders had what he described as “equality of arms”.  However after half a mile of the race this no longer existed as Philip Enright had given his whip to David Russell.  He described a whip as a “tool of a jockey’s trade”.  He also stated that the Stewards were correct to charge the two riders with a breach of Rule 272, as it was the appropriate rule for that which occurred. 

Having considered the evidence the Appeals Body found that, on the balance of probabilities, David Russell had acted in a manner prejudicial to the proper conduct of horseracing and as such was in breach of Rule 272.  They also noted that he had a clean record.  However, they stated the importance of sending out a message that this type of conduct in a race was unacceptable and that a precedent needed to be set.  Having taken into account the various submissions on the severity of the original penalty, the Appeals Body reduced the suspension to two race days (December 20th and 21st 2014) and ordered that David Russell’s appeal deposit be forfeited.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Solicitor, Naas, Co Kildare. David Russell was represented by Patrick Kennedy, Patrick J. O’Meara & Co Solicitors, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

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