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Liam Casey (Restricted Trainer)/Danny Mullins (Rider) Appeals Thurles, 9th November 2017

The Appeals Body, (Division One), Mr. Justice Joseph Finnegan, (in the chair), Philip McLernon and John Powell met at the Turf Club, Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 20th November 2017 to consider the appeals of Liam Casey, Restricted Trainer, and Danny Mullins, Rider, against the decision of the Stewards at Thurles on 9th November 2017.

On the day, following the running of the Thurles Beginners Steeplechase, the Stewards enquired into the running and riding of Omega Springs, ridden by Danny Mullins, and trained by Liam Casey. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards were of the opinion that both rider and trainer were in breach of Rule 212(A)(ii). Having taken both records in this regard into account, the Stewards suspended Danny Mullins for five race days and ordered that he forfeit his riding fee. Furthermore, the Stewards fined Liam Casey €2,000 and suspended Omega Springs for 42 days.

Appeals were lodged by both Liam Casey and Danny Mullins. The grounds of appeal lodged by Liam Casey were that at all stages prior to the race and when instructing the rider, it was his intention that the horse should win or obtain the best possible placing and that the rider should take all reasonable measures to ensure that he did so. Danny Mullins’s grounds of appeal was that he was not in breach of Rule 212A(ii).

Evidence was heard from Danny Mullins and Liam Casey – both of whom presented their own cases. The Appeals Body also considered a transcript of the original evidence and viewed the recording of the race. The Appeals Body reviewed film of a number of other races at Thurles in which Danny Mullins rode.

In his evidence, Danny Mullins went through the recording of the race and submitted that the horse’s finishing position of 7th was the best possible place the horse could have obtained in the circumstances of the way the race was run.

Mr. Mullins said that Omega Springs jumped well throughout the race. However, he was “flat to the boards” approaching the third last fence. He said he steadied the horse coming to the second last fence as it is a downhill fence that has a high faller rate. He submitted that even if he rode the horse stronger it wouldn’t have obtained a better place.

Mr. Mullins also made reference to the horse’s rating over hurdles which was lower than practically all of the other runners in the race. He felt that the horse had run considerably above himself in the race.

In response to a number of questions from Paul Murtagh relating to whether or not Omega Springs was flat to the boards in the latter stage of the race, Danny Mullins said that the horse was giving everything he could and that he had no chance of winning or being placed. He said that he didn’t drive the horse into the second last fence as he could have fallen and even with a stronger ride thereafter, it wouldn’t have made any difference.

In his evidence, Liam Casey said he felt the race was lost between the 4th and 3rd last fences when the leaders got away from Omega Springs He said that Danny Mullins could have been more forceful up the straight but if he was the horse could have fallen and in any case, he didn’t think it would have improved his finishing position as he doesn’t find much off the bridle. He said the horse was fit to run and had schooled well at home. He concluded by saying that after the horse left the parade ring he could do no more.

Having considered the evidence, the chairman of the Appeals Body said that they considered the transcript of the original enquiry as well as the video evidence. He said they had to look at what transpired before the stewards and that the onus was on the appellants to satisfy the Appeals Body that there was an error in the original decision and that the inferences taken from the facts were not appropriate.

In relation to Danny Mullins, they found that there was evidence to support the original decision of the stewards and in the circumstances, they disallowed his appeal and confirmed the suspension of five racedays (23rd, 25th, 26th 29th and 30th November 2017).

In relation to Liam Casey, the Appeals Body found that he had fulfilled his functions in that the horse was fit and well schooled. They were not satisfied that it was appropriate to contradict this and in the circumstances of what occurred during the race, his appeal was allowed. In view of this decision, they also lifted the suspension imposed on Omega Springs.

The Appeals Body ordered that Danny Mullins’s deposit be forfeited and that Liam Casey’s deposit be returned.

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

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