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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Winters and Foley fail to overturn Churchtown Glen non-trier ban

Mick Winters: Churchtown Glen had his fine reduced
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Mick Winters and Barry John Foley were unsuccessful with their appeals against Churchtown Glen being found guilty under the 'non-trier' rule at Cork this month but did have their penalties reduced due to personal circumstances by the Turf Club appeals body on Wednesday night.

Winters said that having his fine reduced from €6,000 to €4,500 was "of no consolation whatsoever", while Foley's ban is down to 14 days from 21 days. Churchtown Glen remains suspended for 90 days. 

Churchtown Glen stayed on to finish seventh in the opening 2m maiden hurdle at Cork on November 19 under tender handling from Foley.

The Turf Club appeals body, which consisted of Justice Joseph Finnegan, Colin Magnier and Michael Hickey, agreed with the decision of the raceday stewards at Cork in deciding the parties were guilty of rule 212A(i).

That rule states: "Any person involved in the running and/or riding of a horse in a race who deliberately or recklessly causes or permits a horse to run other than on its merits shall be guilty of an offence under this sub-rule."

The penalties were the most severe imposed to date since the Turf Club's new rule 212 regulations in relation to 'non-triers' were redrafted ten months ago.

Winters, who was frustrated by the decision, said: "I wish to make no further comment on the matter and I think it is best for people to make up their own minds on it. Having the fine reduced is of no consolation to me whatsoever."

Jim Duggan, who was representing Winters along with Kevin Power, argued that Churchtown Glen could have caused carnage had Foley not ridden the horse the way he did. 

Duggan said: "Barry John could have been back here for a more serious offence had he not ridden the horse the way he did. The horse was hanging severely to his left and he was trying to avoid collisions with other horses. At no stage did he intend to stop the horse. He was simply fearful that he might cause interference with other horses.

He added: "This is a small trainer, who trains in a small stable and the race was at his local track. The last thing he wanted was a loser."

Duggan also read out a letter from Churchtown Glen's 86-year-old owner James Gordon which stated that he was being unfairly treated. 

Stipendiary steward Paul Murtagh, who presented the case for the Turf Club, stressed Churchtown Glen was not hanging as badly to his left as Winters' team were alleging and that it was important to understand the seriousness of the offence. 

Murtagh said: "It is rare we see a horse being restrained so much in the latter part of a race. This is different to any case we have seen of late. You can see from the video of the race that the rider deliberately prevents his horse from obtaining his best possible position and he is certainly not hanging as badly as is alleged."

In giving his verdict, Finnegan took into consideration the personal circumstances of both Winters and Foley. 

Finnegan said: "While we find that the stewards on the day made no error, we felt we should take into consideration the personal circumstances of the people involved. Mr Winters is a small trainer and we feel he is unlikely to be involved in a similar case again. 

"We have received a medical certificate about Barry John Foley and we have also taken into consideration his problems with whip offences so we have decided to reduce his ban from 21 days to 14 days."

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Having the fine reduced is of no consolation to me whatsoever
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