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Muskerry (F) Dromahane Point to Point Referral – 11th October 2020

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Sean Barry (in the chair) Ms. Mary M. O’Connor and Mr. N.B. Wachman convened at Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on 10th December 2020 to consider a referral from the Stewards at the Muskerry (F) Dromahane Point to Point fixture on 11th October 2020.


On the day, following the running of the 5-y-o & Upwards Mares Maiden, the Stewards enquired into circumstances around the bypassing of the third last fence where there appeared to be confusion as to which side the fence should be bypassed, resulting in the field bypassing the fence on both sides. Having heard the evidence, they made no alteration to the judges placings on the day but referred the matter to the Referrals Committee for their determination.


Evidence was heard from Mr. John O’Sullivan (Fence Marshal), in the company of his wife, Margaret O’Sullivan (Fence Marshal), Mr. Barry O’Neill (Rider), Mr. Shane Fitzgerald (Rider) and Mr. Sean Staples (Rider). The Referrals Committee also viewed a recording of the race.


In his evidence, Mr. O’Sullivan outlined his experience as a Fence Marshal over the last 30 years. He detailed the events on the day and stated that the riders were informed in their pre-race briefing to bypass the fences on the outside but that circumstances changed during this particular race due to a rider receiving attention by the Medical Officers. Mr. O’Sullivan explained that due to the positioning of the ambulance, the attending doctor instructed the fence to be bypassed on the inside to avoid the injured rider, those attending to him and also the ambulance.  Mr. O’Sullivan accepted that bypassing the fence to the inside would be tight but this is what he was instructed to do by the attending Doctor in this instance. He explained that his wife, Margaret who was also a Fence Marshal on the day stood half-way between the final bend and the wings of the bypassed fence to wave the riders to the inside and that he placed a disc in the fence and waved a disc to point riders to the inside.


In his evidence, Mr. O’Neill, rider of Dangan Des Champs, placed first, thanked Mr. and Mrs. O’Sullivan for their assistance at Point to Points and acknowledged all those who do the job on a voluntary basis. He said on this occasion there was a lot of confusion due to the fact that the pre-race briefing instructed riders to bypass on the outside and also because of the lack of room to bypass on the inside. In his opinion, he felt it was unclear which direction the riders were being directed to bypass the fence on and that it wasn’t safe to bypass on the inside of this fence and so he continued to the outside on his mount. Mr. O’Neill felt that he had taken the right course and was happy with his decision, hence his reasoning for not pulling up. He added that, in his opinion, the result on the day should stand.


In his evidence, Mr. Fitzgerald, rider of Our Pocket Rocket, placed third, stated that he was down the inside as they turned the final bend and he felt at the time that the riders were being waved to the inside so he bypassed the fence to the inside and felt at the time that he had taken the correct course.


In his evidence, Mr. Staples, rider of Dazzling Glory, unplaced, said that he was in the lead as the field turned the bend approaching the fence and at this point he saw the ambulance appeared to be parked on the wide outside. He then saw Mrs. O’Sullivan waving the flag towards the inside and he made the manoeuvre to bypass the fence on the inside and felt he had taken the correct course in doing so.


Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee noted that the circumstances on the day were of an exceptional nature. However, they were satisfied that there had been a breach of Regulation 33(iv) in that a situation arose at a fence that caused the Fence Marshals, for reasons of safety, to direct the runners to bypass the fence on the side which had not been originally designated for bypassing and therefore the side originally designated for bypassing was the wrong course. As a consequence, they ordered that the horses that bypassed on that side (outside) be disqualified. They disqualified Dangan Des Champs, placed first, As High Say, placed second and Melanamix, placed fourth, ordered the stake to be forfeited and amended the result to read as follows:


First: Our Pocket Rocket


Owing to the mitigating factors, the committee took no further action. 


The case was presented by Mr. Liam Walsh, Stipendiary Steward.

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