A 'deplorable' stable, a wall collision and 20 riders taking the wrong course
The content of stewards' reports is often unspectacular but this week at Galway there have been some highly unusual topics . . .
Hitchcock hits the wall
Tuesday evening saw an unfamiliar explanation in the stewards' report regarding the Barry John Murphy-trained Hitchcock, who, along with rider Seamie Heffernan, collided with a wall upon pulling up after finishing ninth in the 1m½f handicap.
The incident didn't appear to be captured on camera but Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board veterinary officers Dr Lynn Hillyer (chief) and Nicola O'Connor reported the four-year-old had been grazed after making contact with the wall.
Heffernan accepted the content of the report but explained to the stewards that his mount was difficult to pull up and that he "reacted by trying to avoid injuring a number of grooms standing in the same area".
Having considered the evidence, the stewards noted the comments and recommended the clerk of the course, Lorcan Wyer, look at the area in question with a view to creating a safer environment for staff and riders at the termination of a race.
O'Brien gets seven-day ban
Irish Flat jockeys' championship leader Donnacha O'Brien received a seven-day ban for attempting to weigh out for the ride on Queen Iseult, trained by his father Aidan, in the 1m4f fillies' maiden on Friday without the harness on his back protector.
The stewards report noted that O'Brien – a multiple Classic-winning rider – stated it had been "an oversight on his part". Having considered the evidence, the stewards found the rider in breach of rule 198 (v) and regulation 10. After considering his clean record they suspended O'Brien for seven days.
Dunne fined €1,500 for leaving runner in 'unacceptable' stabling area overnight
Trainer David Dunne's Vodka Society, who was beaten 160 lengths at 100-1 in Thursday's 2m6½f beginners' chase, was at the centre of an inquiry due to the ten-year-old being found by an IHRB security team member in a stable described as being "in a deplorable condition".
The report read: "A half bale of shavings which was left in the stable had not been spread, the stable appeared wet and there was a lot of dung present. There was tack on the floor of the stable and on further examination he discovered the passport for the horse, Vodka Society.
"He [the IHRB security team member] didn't observe any feed but there was some water present. He presented digital photographs of the condition of the stable to the stewards."
A member of the stable yard personnel stated she observed the horse overnight but did not have the authority to attend to the horse's bedding or feeding needs, which is the sole preserve and responsibility of the trainer and his staff.
In her opinion "the condition the horse was left in overnight was unacceptable".
Dunne explained it had been his intention to have the horse transported home on Thursday evening but the arrangements for this had fallen through and the horse was left at the racecourse overnight. He stated that he last attended the horse at 8pm on Thursday and did not return to the horse until 2.15pm on Friday.
He said an unforeseen chain of events had occurred which meant his standard of care as a trainer had fallen short of what it should have been and he was "embarrassed" to be in the stewards' room for a matter of this nature.
Having considered all the evidence, the stewards found Dunne in breach of rule 148 (i) and rule 272 and having considered his previous clean record in this regard imposed a fine of €1,500.
Entire 20-runner field takes wrong course in €100,000 Saturday feature
One rider taking the incorrect course is not especially strange but it is bizarre to see the entire field doing so, which happened in Saturday's €100,000 2m7f handicap hurdle.
After jumping the second hurdle in the straight for the first time there appeared to be some confusion among the riders as the pack headed to the left of a rail on to the chase course, rather than electing to go to the inside.
Contact was made with the rail as space became tight but the race continued as normal for the rest of the contest on the hurdle track. When the riders arrived at the same juncture on the second circuit they stayed the correct side of the rail, with the route seemingly made more obvious.
The race was won by Willie Mullins' Low Sun but the stewards first had to look into the incident and interviewed the clerk of the course.
The stewards determined the entire field took the incorrect course on the first circuit and found that no horse gained an advantage as a result. It was decided that it was not appropriate or necessary to invoke their powers to void the race and they allowed the result to stand. No further action was taken.
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