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P. Townend Referral Hearing (Roscommon 10 July)

The Referrals Committee, John Powell (in the Chair), P.J.A. O’Connor and Peter M. Allen met in the Stewards Room, Galway Racecourse, Ballybrit, Co. Galway on Wednesday, 1st August 2012 to consider the referral of P. Townend (rider) by Denis Egan, Keeper of the Matchbook, under the provisions of Rule 27, following the running of the Athleague Maiden Hurdle at Roscommon on 10th July 2012, as he felt that the penalty of a three race day suspension on the rider for breach of Rule 272 was unduly lenient.

Prior to evidence being heard, the Committee considered a submission from Andrew Coonan with regard to the legality of whether or not the Committee could consider the application from the Keeper of the Matchbook and subsequently hear the evidence.  Andrew Coonan submitted that, in the event the application was granted, that the evidence should then be considered by another Committee.  He submitted that it was not possible for the Committee to make two decisions in relation to one case.  Having taken advice from the legal assessor, Patrick Reidy, that the Committee could decide to grant the application and then consider the evidence, the case proceeded.

Evidence was heard from Denis Egan and Noel O’Brien Senior, INHS Handicapper.  Film of the race was also viewed, as was film of a race from the Curragh on 22nd May 2010.

In his evidence Denis Egan outlined why he felt the penalty imposed was lenient and the factors he took into consideration when arriving at his decision to ask for a penalty review.  This included a review of the race film, the evidence given by P. Townend at Roscommon and the limited time which was available to the stewards to consider the matter on the night.

In his evidence Noel O’Brien told the Committee that he did not allocate a handicap mark to Mulleady after she ran at Roscommon in view of what had occurred.  He said that he watched the race in the stands, and from what he could see, he thought that Paul Townend was giving the horse a “strong drive”.  He said Mulleady subsequently ran at Ballinrobe and won impressively and that he rated the Ballinrobe run 14lbs superior to the Roscommon run which represented substantial improvement.

Andrew Coonan made a number of other submissions in relation to the original penalty imposed which he felt was reasonable in view of other penalties imposed under Rule 272.
Having considered the evidence and the various submissions, the Committee increased the penalty imposed on P. Townend from three race days to five race days (16th, 17th, 19th, 20th & 21st August) for the rule breach.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  P. Townend was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  Patrick Reidy, Reidy Stafford Solicitors, Newbridge, Co. Kildare acted as legal assessor.

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