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Oliver McKiernan / Barry Browne Appeals - Gowran Park, 25th January 2018

The Appeals Body, (Division One), Mr. Justice Joseph Finnegan (in the chair), C.P. Magnier and Peter N. Reynolds met at the offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday 5th February 2018 to consider the Appeals of Oliver McKiernan, Trainer and Barry Browne, Rider against the decision of the Stewards at Gowran Park on 25th January 2018.


On the day following the running of the Langton House Hotel Maiden Hurdle, the Stewards found that both Oliver Mc Kiernan and Barry Browne were in breach of Rule 212 A (ii) and as a result they suspended Barry Browne for 5 racedays and ordered that he forfeit his riding fee, fined Oliver McKiernan €2,000 and suspended ‘Life Isfor Living’ for 42 days.


The grounds of Appeal lodged were that inter alia Barry Browne made reasonable and adequate effort to ensure the horse obtained his best possible placing in circumstances when his horse is a difficult ride, has a tendency to race freely and lacks resolution when coming off the bridle, and taking into account ground conditions.


Evidence was heard from Oliver McKiernan.  The Appeals Body considered a transcript of the original enquiry and reviewed film of the race.  It also considered submissions from Patrick Kennedy, on behalf of Oliver McKiernan and Barry Browne and Paul Murtagh on behalf of the IHRB.


In his submission, Patrick Kennedy, said it was accepted by both parties that there was no issue with the way the horse was ridden up to the turn into the straight.  He attributed the way the horse was ridden thereafter to the fact that the rider wanted to hold onto the horse for as long as he could, to ensure the horse would get home, something the horse failed to do on previous runs.


Mr. Kennedy said that the horse had hung up the straight with the result that Barry Browne had to keep his hands on the reins to stop the horse drifting.  He noted that the horse went left each time pressure was applied.  Mr. Kennedy also referred to the running and riding of another horse in the race where no penalties were imposed even though that horse had been ridden in a similar way to the way Life Isfor Living was.  He felt it was unfair on the appellants that they were penalised whereas the connections of the other horse were not.


Mr. Kennedy provided the Appeals Body with a veterinary certificate which referred to a scope carried out on the horse the next day where the horse was found to have had a Grade One bleed which Mr. Kennedy felt would have affected his performance. 


In his evidence, Oliver McKiernan said that he had watched the race at the last hurdle and stated that the horse hit this hurdle and felt he ran well in the circumstances considering that the ground was as heavy as it was.


In his submission, Paul Murtagh referred to the way the horse was ridden and noted that Mr. Kennedy had placed great emphasis on the way the horse had hung even though it hadn’t been a big issue at the original enquiry.


Mr. Murtagh suggested that as Mr. McKiernan had only reported the bleed on the morning of the appeal, he may be in breach of Rule 213 (iii) for failing to report something that may have had a bearing on the running of the horse as soon as possible after it came to the notice of the Trainer.


Mr. Murtagh also referred to Rule 212 C (c)(i) and noted an IHRB Veterinary Officer had not been given the opportunity to validate the veterinary evidence at a time when such evidence was capable of being so validated and prior to today’s appeal. 


Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body dismissed the appeals and ordered that the original penalties remain in place.  Accordingly, they confirmed that Barry Browne is suspended for 5 racedays (February 8th,10th,11th,14th, 15th) and his riding fee be forfeited, Oliver McKiernan is fined €2,000 and Life Isfor Living is suspended for 42 days.  They also ordered that both deposits be forfeited. 


In arriving at their decision, the Appeals Body found that there was no error in the Stewards decision which would entitle them to disagree with the findings. 


The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Head of Raceday Operations and Cliodhna Guy, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance.  Oliver McKiernan and Barry Browne were represented by Patrick Kennedy, Patrick J. O’Meara and Co. Solicitors, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. 

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