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Mr J.C. Barry, Mr. T. Hamilton, Mr. E.P. O’Brien, Mr. A. McMahon, Mr. G. Abbas, Mr. D. O’Connor, Mr. A.T. Feeney, Mr. J. Dunne and Mr. S.J.P. Baragry (Riders) Referral – Killarney 15th July 2021

The Referrals Committee, Mr. N.B. Wachman (in the chair), Mr. Peter N. Reynolds and Mr. Anthony Byrne convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Wednesday 4th August 2021 to consider the request by the Registrar of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, Mr. Paul Murtagh under Rule 27(i)(a) to review the sanction of a caution imposed on Mr J.C. Barry, Mr. T. Hamilton, Mr. E.P. O’Brien, Mr. A. McMahon, Mr. G. Abbas, Mr. D. O’Connor, Mr. A.T. Feeney, Mr. J. Dunne and Mr. S.J.P. Baragry for breaching Rule 208 at Killarney on 15th July 2021, in that they had failed to comply with the instructions of the Starter, causing a false start.

The grounds of appeal by Mr. Murtagh was that the penalty imposed was unduly lenient.

Submissions were made on behalf of Mr. Murtagh, while evidence was heard from Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Hamilton. Mr. McMahon and Mr. Feeney also attended the hearing. . The panel also viewed a recording of the Start of this race and accepted the apologies from the other riders involved who accepted that the Hearing would take place in their absence.

In the submissions made on behalf of Mr. Murtagh, Ms. Cliodhna Guy outlined Mr. Murtagh’s grounds for appealing the sanction imposed on the day. She stated it wasn’t an appeal that was lodged lightly but that in light of all the circumstances surrounding the introduction of the new starting procedures, he felt it was important that all riders were dealt with appropriately. The new starting procedures were introduced on 9th July following a meeting between the Irish Jockeys Association, the IHRB Starters and Mr. Murtagh. Following this meeting, the IHRB wrote to each Qualified Rider to inform them of the changes. Mr. Murtagh also outlined that the disciplinary records of all riders in relation to breaches for the Starting Rule were wiped clean as a demonstration of good faith for the co-operation between riders and the IHRB on attempting to improve this area. This request had been granted by the Directors of the IHRB on the basis that going forward the entry point for a breach of the Starting Rule would be a suspension as recommended by the Stewarding Review Committee. As this was the first racemeeting at which riders were found to be in breach of Rule 208 since 9th July, Mr. Murtagh felt it was important that the sanction imposed was a suspension, rather than a caution.

In their evidence, Mr. O’Brien stated that he did not feel he was in breach of Rule 208 but didn’t feel the sanction of a caution was worth appealing and on realising Mr. Murtagh’s appeal he had missed the deadline for appealing the breach of rule.

Mr. Hamilton stated that he was aware of the new starting procedures when riding at Killarney and that this was a first offence, and he felt the behaviour of the majority of Qualified Riders at the starts had improved since Killarney.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee deemed Mr. Murtagh’s appeal successful and therefore increased the penalty imposed to one raceday. They also strongly agreed that the guidelines for a first of offence of these protocols should be at a minimum of one day and that those guidelines should be published immediately on the IHRB website to reflect the recommendations of the Stewarding Review Committee.

The case was presented by Mr. Liam Walsh, IHRB Stipendiary Steward and Ms. Cliodhna Guy, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance.

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