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M.J. O’Hare (Rider) Appeal – Punchestown, 14th January 2019

The Appeals Body (Division 1), Mr. Justice Joseph Finnegan, (in the chair), Mr. N.B. Wachman and Mr. John Murphy met at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) on Friday, 25th January 2019 to consider the appeal of M.J. O’Hare (Rider) against the decision of the Stewards at Punchestown on 14th January 2019.

On the day, following the running of the “Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Flat Race”, the Stewards interviewed Mr. O’Hare, rider of The Caddy Rose, concerning his use of the whip in the latter stages of the race. Having viewed a recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards were of the opinion that Mr. O’Hare was in breach of Regulation 10.3(c), in that he had used his whip unnecessarily after his mount clearly had her race won. Having taken his previous record into consideration, the Stewards suspended Mr. O’Hare for 2 racedays.

The grounds of appeal lodged was that the Stewards erred in their decision.

Evidence was heard from Mr. O’Hare and Noel Meade, trainer of The Caddy Rose. The Appeals Body also viewed a recording of the race and considered a transcript of the original evidence.

In his evidence Mr. O’Hare outlined the characteristics of The Caddy Rose and what had occurred during the running of the race. He said he also wanted to refer to certain matters that he had omitted to mention at the original enquiry.  He stated that the horse is quirky and wore cheekpieces and tends to shy away from other horses if they come alongside her.

Mr. O’Hare stated that he had let her stride on in front without putting her under too much pressure. At the three furlong pole, he heard other horses coming up behind him but didn’t look around as he didn’t want to unbalance his horse. After he turned into the straight, he kept his horse going and gave her four slaps behind the saddle. He said he wasn’t aware of how far he was in front as he couldn’t hear anything and there was no big screen. He said that he put down his stick in the last 100 yards when he knew how far he was in front. He stated if he had looked around earlier that he could have unbalanced his horse because of her quirkiness.

In his evidence, Mr. Meade confirmed the horse’s characteristics as outlined by Mr. O’Hare. He said it was the horse’s 8th run and that he had switched her back to bumpers after an unsuccessful run over hurdles. He said he never thought that she would win by 16 lengths and suggested this occurred as she had been allowed to dictate the race from the front. He reiterated that Mr. O’Hare was unaware of how far he was in front until he looked back in the last 100 yards and agreed with his reasons for not doing so until then.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body noted the history of the horse which had been confirmed by Mr. Meade. They also noted Mr. O’Hare’s reasons for riding the horse the way he did and accepted that in the circumstances, the use of the whip was not unnecessary albeit the horse won the race by some distance. In view of this, they allowed the appeal and ordered that the appeal deposit be refunded.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance and Colm Murphy, Stewards Secretary.

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