Turf Club denies accusation of witch hunt after appeals
Denis Egan on Monday rejected accusations that the Turf Club was on a witch hunt following a heated conclusion to an appeal.
Its appeals panel overturned a non-trier decision in relation to Cloudy Morning at Gowran Park on March 11 but then referred his trainer Declan Queally and jockey Barry John Foley under a different subclause of the running and riding rule.
The panel also overturned the €2,000 raceday fine trainer Matthew Smith had been hit with over the running of Theturnofthesun in the same race but dismissed the appeal of jockey Andrew Lynch and upheld the horse’s 42-day ban.
Exonerated of any wrongdoing under the original rule 212 A (ii), Queally and Foley subsequently learned they were to be referred under a different section of the rule, relating to schooling in public.
Foley failed to convince the panel he had no case to answer in relation to rule 212 A (iii), and his legal representative on the day, Kevin Power, objected to that charge being dealt with at the hearing.
A visibly angry Power said: “They [the Turf Club] are going to try to prosecute us under another rule as they couldn’t find us guilty of any wrongdoing on the original decision.
“We succeeded in our appeal but now we're going to have to go through another case. They're going to try to charge us with schooling in public.
"I mean, you come up here to try to defend yourself from one thing and then they try to find you guilty of something else."
He continued: “It’s a witch hunt is what it is. This game is hard enough for guys like this to make a living in but now they have to forfeit another day’s pay to come back and defend themselves again.”
'There is certainly no witch hunt'
Egan, the Turf Club's chief executive, defended the decision, stating last night: "There is certainly no witch hunt. There was specific evidence given to the appeals body today that was not given to the stewards at Gowran Park which could imply there was a breach of another rule. I am asking the referrals committee to look into that.
"Today the appeals body put the charge to Kevin Power and he was unwilling to accept it on the day, as he felt the appeals body didn't have the power to do that, which is fine.
"A senior racing official can refer any matter under rule to the referrals committee, and if there is an adverse decision there will be the right of appeal against that decision.
"Kevin's main concern today was that if the appeals body dealt with it, he wouldn't have the right to another appeal, so it will be referred."
Just three horses finished the Gowran race, which was won by odds-on General Principle with inferior-rated rivals Cloudy Morning and Theturnofthesun battling it out for minor money, both at 25-1.
The complexion of the race changed significantly when 7-4 second favourite Dicosimo fell early, leaving General Principle to beat Cloudy Morning nine lengths, with Theturnofthesun half a length further back in third.
The referrals committee showed particular concern over Lynch’s riding on Theturnofthesun from the back of the last fence and highlighted rule 212 C (d), despite the fact the Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey said he was “thrilled” with the ride he gave the horse.
Lynch, who was having his first ride over fences since returning from more than six months on the sidelines with a broken elbow, will miss five race days, beginning on Thursday. He was unavailable for comment, as was Smith, after the hearing.
“We have a horse who has finished where the handicapper has expected him to finish and we have a trainer not guilty, yet the rider and horse are suspended. I find that strange and hard to explain. I have to say I'm a bit bewildered by the new 212 rule itself.”
Coonan also expressed worry about the element of jockeyship being eliminated from race-riding under the new 212 rule, as he believes riders will take notice of the findings of this case and alter their approach.
“To this day people still debate the Paul Carberry ride on Harchibald in the 2005 Champion Hurdle. Was it one of the greatest rides to kid Harchibald to finish as high as he did, or not?
“We now have a situation where the idea of giving a horse an intelligent ride is very much at risk.
"I would have a concern now that jockeys will be asked to hit horses in circumstances in which they should not be hit, simply to satisfy the man in the stand or the punter in the betting shop.”