Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Integrity Portal

Seamie Heffernan (Rider) Appeal - Curragh, 13 September 2015


The Appeals Body (Division Two) Peter N. Reynolds (in the chair), C.P. Magnier and M.C. Hickey met on Friday, 18th September 2015 at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co Kildare to consider the appeal of Seamie Heffernan (rider) against the decision of the Stewards at the Curragh on 13th September 2015. On the day the Stewards found that Seamie Heffernan was in breach of Rule 214, in that he had ridden dangerously following the running of the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund “Bold Lad” Sprint Handicap (Premier Handicap). As a result he was suspended for ten race days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee. In addition, his mount In Salutem (GB) was disqualified from second place as a result of the finding.

His grounds of appeal were that he did not ride dangerously and in all the circumstances including the nature of the race, the amount of runners and the ground conditions, his ride should not have been regarded as falling below that of a competent and careful rider nor in riding as he did that he was likely to endanger the safety of another horse or rider.

Evidence was heard from W.J. Lee (by phone), who rode An Saighdiur (involved in the incident) on a previous occasion, Seamie Heffernan, T.P. Madden, rider of Creggs Pipes, Declan McDonogh, rider of An Saighdiur and Martin Hassett, trainer of Master Speaker. Film of the race was viewed, as was film of An Saighdiur’s running at Cork on 6th April 2015. A transcript of the original enquiry at the Curragh on 13th September was also reviewed.

In his evidence W.J. Lee said that he rode An Saighdiur at Cork on 6th April 2015. He said that when the winner came upsides him in the latter stages of the race, An Saighdiur changed his legs and rolled onto the rail which was similar to what occurred in the Curragh race.

In his evidence Seamie Heffernan referred to the incident. He said he switched out to make his run and as he was passing Declan McDonogh he brushed off his mount, An Saighdiur, which caused that horse to go left. He said he was not aware that Creggs Pipes was on the inside of An Saighdiur and in his view there was no gap between An Saighdiur and the rails for Creggs Pipes to go through. He accepted that his mount brushed off An Saighdiur as he was passing and caused interference, but he felt An Saighdiur could have overreacted to what occurred. He said he heard no call from either Declan McDonogh or T.P. Madden.

In response to questions from the panel and Paul Murtagh (stipendiary steward), Seamie Heffernan reiterated that he did not know that Creggs Pipes was on the inside of An Saighdiur. He did accept that he came off a straight line.

In his evidence T.P. Madden said he was travelling well throughout the race but there was never a gap between An Saighdiur and the rails for him to go through. He said he was holding his mount together waiting for a gap. He said he wasn’t in the gap when In Salutem (GB) brushed off An Saighdiur and was only on that horse’s hind quarters when the incident occurred.

When it was pointed out to T.P. Madden that there was a gap and that he did try to ride into it for 3 to 4 strides, he denied that his actions could be described as riding into the gap.

In his evidence Declan McDonogh confirmed the evidence he gave at the original enquiry which was that when In Salutem (GB) came upsides him, there was room for him and as he was passing, Creggs Pipes attempted to come through on his inside which contributed more to what occurred. He attributed what occurred to an error of judgement by T.P. Madden by putting his horse into the gap, as there was no room on the inside. He said that his horse may also have overreacted as he was getting tired.

In response to questions from the panel and Paul Murtagh, Declan McDonogh said he did not accept that pressure on his inside only happened when there was pressure on his outside.

In his evidence Martin Hassett questioned the relevance of evidence given by W.J. Lee with regard to An Saighdiur which he said related to only one race. He said he felt that T.P. Madden was made a scapegoat for what occurred and in his view there was clearly a gap for T.P. Madden to go through before it closed. He said that Declan McDonogh had spotted the danger and pulled his horse to the left.

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body dismissed Seamie Heffernan’s appeal and ordered that the original penalty of ten days and the forfeiture of his riding fee be imposed. The suspension dates are 27th, 28th, 29th September and 2nd, 4th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th October.

The panel confirmed the result of the race, as amended by the Stewards on the day to read as follows:
First: George Bowen
Second: Master Speaker
Third: Jan Van Hoof
Fourth: Kasbah
Fifth: Ostatnia
Sixth: Jamesie

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, stipendiary steward. Seamie Heffernan was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co Kildare.

Copyright © 2018, I.H.R.B, All Rights Reserved.