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Mr. M.J. O'Connor Referral

Mr. M.J. O'Connor Referral - Punchestown 25th May 2011

The Referrals Committee, Neville O’Byrne (in the Chair), J.R. Craigie and Philip Caffrey met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 9th June 2011 to consider the referral of M.J. O’Connor, Qualified Rider, by Denis Egan, Keeper of the Matchbook, under the provisions of Rule 27, following the running of the Conyngham (Q.R.) Handicap Steeplechase at Punchestown on 25th May, 2011 as he felt that the penalty imposed of four racedays for improper riding was unduly lenient.
Evidence was heard from Denis Egan who said that he felt the incident should be re examined by the Referrals Committee as they may be in a better position to consider the sequence of events without being under the time restrictions that the Stewards at Punchestown had to contend with.

In his evidence K.E. Power, Qualified Rider, explained what occurred in the lead up to the incident.  He said that there wasn’t a lot of light going to the fence as a result of being tightened up.  He felt the incident could have been more serious if he wasn’t riding a big horse as he felt this enabled him hold his ground.

The Committee considered written evidence from M.J. O’Connor who was unable to attend the referral due to injury. In his evidence he said that he felt the four day penalty imposed for improper riding was harsh having regard to his previous record and to the circumstances of the incident.  He also confirmed that he was happy for the referral to go ahead in his absence.

Having considered the evidence, the Committee were satisfied that M.J. O’Connor was guilty of improper riding and they increased his penalty from four racedays to seven racedays (June 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, July 1st)

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare. 

Editors Note:
1. A copy of the original enquiry report from Punchestown is attached.
2. M.J. O’Connor was already suspended on 19th, 20th, 21st June prior to today’s hearing.


Attachment 1:

Punchestown Meeting, 25th May 2011
109A Conyngham Cup (Q.R) Handicap Steeplechase & The Stewards enquired into two incidents in this race. The first incident occurred shortly after jumping the fifth last fence and involved Optimum Force, ridden by Mr. K.E. Power, placed second, and Not Before Eight, ridden by Mr. M.J. O’Connor, unplaced, after it appeared that Not Before Eight suffered interference. The second incident occurred approaching the fourth last fence involving the winner Lion Na Bearnai, ridden by Mr. M.M. O’Connor, Optimum Force, and Not Before Eight, after it appeared that Optimum Force suffered interference. Evidence was heard from the riders concerned.
Having viewed a recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards were of the opinion that Mr. K.E. Power had ridden dangerously in the first incident in that he purposely interfered with Mr. M.J. O’Connor’s mount Not Before Eight. The Stewards  therefore disqualified Optimum Force from second place and placed him last and amended the result to read as follows:- First: Lion Na Bearnai, Second: Sang Bleu, Third: Lusiad, Fourth: Ameretto Son.
Furthermore, the Stewards, having taken his good record in this regard into account, suspended Mr. K.E. Power for 14 race days.
In addition, the Stewards were of the opinion that Mr. M.J. O’Connor had ridden improperly in the second incident and having taken his good record in this regard into account, they suspended him for four race days (8th, 10th, 12th and 13th June).
Mr. Liam Ward, Acting Steward, absented himself from this enquiry.
Mr. John Osborne, Acting Steward, did not attend this enquiry.


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