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William Coleman O’Brien (Trainer) and Ambrose McCurtin (Rider) Appeal – Listowel 19th September 2021

The Appeals Body (Division 2) Mr. Sean Barry (in the chair) Mr. John Murphy and Mr. Peter M. Allen convened at Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Thursday, 7th October 2021 to consider the Appeals of William Coleman O’Brien (Trainer) and Ambrose McCurtin (Rider) against the decision of the Stewards at Listowel on 19th September 2021.

On the day, following the running of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Hurdle, the Stewards fined Mr. O’Brien €2,000, suspended Mr. McCurtin, rider of No Memory for 14 racedays and ordered the forfeiture of his riding fee having found them in breach of Rule 212a(ii), in that the horse was not subject to a timely, real and substantial effort to achieve the best possible placing. Furthermore, they suspended No Memory for 42 days under Rule 212a(v) as a consequence. The grounds of appeal lodged by Mr. O’Brien and Mr. McCurtin was that the Stewards had erred in their decision.

Evidence was heard from Mr. O’Brien, Mr. McCurtin, Mr. Andrew Shaw, IHRB National Hunt Handicapper and the Appeals Body also watched a recording of the race.

In his evidence, Mr. O’Brien expressed his satisfaction at the ride given to No Memory by Mr. McCurtin who is now very familiar with the mare. He said that No Memory was meeting the winner, French Made (FR), 20lbs wrong and that his charge was 100/1 as a result of this. He stated that she is a hard trier and that Mr. McCurtin had given her the best possible ride to get her to finish third as she was unable to go the quick early pace of the race. Mr. O’Brien explains that he has chosen some similar condition type races for No Memory as most of the time you get smaller fields and better prize money  for being placed and sometimes you can get anomalies in the results if high rated horses under perform or meet with interference for example. He admitted that strictly on form and being 100/1 he wouldn’t have expected her to beat French Made (FR) who had been placed in a Grade 1.

In his evidence, Mr. McCurtin stated that he was absolutely satisfied that he had achieved his best possible placing on this occasion and he didn’t think there was anything else he could do to make up the four and a quarter lengths to the runner-up, Say Goodbye. He said that the mare was giving him everything throughout the race and he was as strong as he could be in the closing stages. He stated that he had previously learnt a lot from winning on the mare in Ballinrobe when he felt he hit the front too soon.

In his evidence, Mr. Shaw explained that No Memory was raised 3lbs to a rating of 118 for her run in Listowel but on the day, solely using figures, she did appear to have run to a higher rating. Mr. Shaw said that when a horse has run in a number of handicap races such as No Memory, he is inclined to consider that form and that is why she has only got a 3lbs rise on this occasion. He added that just on rating figures No Memory would have been expected to only beat two or three horses home in the Listowel race so she did appear to run better than before. Mr Shaw concluded that, in his opinion, Mr. McCurtin was quieter in comparison to the other jockeys around him  and it was the type of run that would be brought to the attention of the Stewards for consideration.

Having considered the evidence the Appeals Body could not be satisfied that there was a breach of the Rule and felt that, on balance, the appeals should be allowed and they ordered the return of both deposits.

The case was presented by Mr. Liam Walsh, Stipendiary Steward and Mr. McCurtin was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, County Kildare

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