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D.N. Russell / R.M. Power Appeal Hearings

D.N. Russell / R.M. Power Appeals – Cork, 13th December 2010

The Appeals Body (Division One), Pat Reidy (in the Chair), Mrs. J.O. Onions and Sean Barry met in the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 21st December 2010 to consider the appeals of riders, D.N Russell and R.M. Power against the decision of the Stewards at Cork on 13th December 2010, when, following the running of the Follow Us On Twitter Maiden Hurdle, they were both suspended for four race days after being found in breach of Rule 40.

The grounds of appeal in each case were that:
(i)   Neither rider breached Rule 40.
(ii)  Both riders sought to obey the starter’s instructions.
(iii)  Both riders felt that a fair start was not being effected in view of the guidelines and instructions issued by the Turf Club with regard to obeying starter’s instructions.
(iv) The penalty imposed in both cases was unreasonable in all the circumstances.

Evidence was heard from Philippe Lafarge, Starter at Cork, D.N. Russell, R.M. Power, D.J. Casey, rider of Quartz Debilleron (FR), which also ran in the race, and J.R. Banahan, Senior Turf Club Starter.

In his evidence, Philippe Lafarge outlined the procedures that were followed at the start of the race in question.  He said that David Russell, Andrew Lynch and Denis Hogan riders, had indicated to him that they wanted to be handy. In this respect he noted that the horses were coming out onto the track from the holding area in the correct order to facilitate this.  However, just as they approached the track another horse, Quartz Debilleron (FR) ridden by D.J. Casey, started to take hold and fly jump with the result that some of the other horses in behind got excited and came out on to the track at a faster speed than would be desirable.  The horses bunched towards the inside and came forward to him at a canter.  He called out to the riders to slow down on a number of occasions as they approached the tape, and once he was happy that they were in a reasonable group, he released the tape.  He said he was very surprised when he saw that the horses ridden by both D.N. Russell and R.M. Power had not started.  In response to a question from Andrew Coonan (on behalf of D.N. Russell and R.M. Power), Philippe Lafarge said that he did consider calling a false start, but that there was no need to and that in his view a fair start had been effected.

In his evidence, D.N. Russell said that he didn’t jump off because in his view starting procedures were not followed and he thought a false start would be called as horses were galloping towards the tape which is against the procedures.  He said he was trying to follow the starting procedures.  He also said that he did not deliberately prevent his horse from taking part.  He accepted that the starter did not call a false start, but that he himself anticipated that a false start would be called.

In his evidence, R.M. Power said that he also felt that a false start would be called because procedures weren’t followed.  He said that he didn’t think it was going to be a start because horses were cantering towards the tape and quite an amount of interference was caused to him as a result of general bunching.  He said he felt that he abided by the starting procedures.  He accepted that the starter did not call a false start and that the starter has the final call.  He also said that he did not deliberately prevent his horse from taking part.

D.J. Casey outlined the problems that he had with his mount Quartz Debilleron (FR) who was very keen.  He said he thought a false start would have been called, but said he didn’t pull up as he approached the starting tape because he had difficulty in restraining his horse.

J.R. Banahan outlined how the starting procedures worked and said that on occasions it is acceptable for a race to start if horses are cantering towards the tape provided they are in a good group.

The Appeals Body also reviewed recordings of the start.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body found both D.N. Russell and R.M. Power guilty of a breach of Rule 40 in that they did not start when a fair start had been effected.

In mitigation, Andrew Coonan said that he felt that the original penalty of four days for each rider was excessive as it meant that they would be unable to ride on three of the four days at Christmas which had substantial prizemoney on offer.  He outlined how important the period was for the riders concerned as both had significant earnings in the period last year.  He also said that both riders had already lost out considerably in November/December as a result of cancellations due to bad weather.  He said that if the penalty was reduced to three days, each rider could ride on the Grade One days as penalties under rules on such days can be deferred if they are of three days or less.  The Appeals Body also considered written submissions from Gigginstown House Stud, employer of D.N. Russell and Mrs. John Harrington for whom R.M. Power rides on a regular basis. 

Having considered the various pleas and written submissions the Appeals Body reduced the penalty from four race days to three race days (December 30th, 31st and January 1st) and in addition imposed a fine of €1,250 on each rider.

The case was presented by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.  D.N. Russell and R.M. Power were represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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