Aidan O’Brien: labelled rule “very hard to understand and very confusing”
PICTURE: Getty Images
AIDAN O’BRIEN labelled the Turf Club’s controversial rule 212 “very hard to understand and very confusing” after losing his appeal on Monday against the penalty imposed on him by the Dundalk stewards on March 31 over the running of the filly Music Box.
O’Brien was fined €2,000, while the five-day ban on jockey Wayne Lordan and the 42-day suspension for Music Box were also upheld. Rule 212 deals with horses having to be seen to be run, and ridden, to obtain the best possible placing in a race.
Music Box was beaten a length and a nose in a mile fillies’ maiden and the penalties were upheld by the Appeals Committee of the Turf Club after a one-hour hearing at Turf Club headquarters at the Curragh.
The decision reached by the Dundalk stewards also involved an alleged breach of another section of rule 212 involving schooling a horse on the racecourse and that aspect of O’Brien’s appeal was allowed after the three-man committee – Joe Finnegan (chairman), Leslie Crawford and Nicholas Lambert-had deliberated for 30 minutes.
O’Brien and Lordan were not legally represented at the Turf Club hearing. The case against them was presented by Shay Quinn (stewards’ secretary) and the Turf Club’s solicitor Cliodhna Guy.
A clean record
Rule 212, in its current form, was introduced in January and O’Brien stated that in 20 years as a trainer he had never been involved in a running and riding case such as this one. Lordan who has been riding for 19 years has also had a clean record.
In reaching their decision, the committee considered that, had Lordan given Music Box a more vigorous ride in the closing stages of the race, the filly would have finished second to her stablemate Asking.
In his evidence on Monday Lordan stated Music Box “had got a bit upset in the stalls and hadn’t travelled well, possibly due to kickback”, and that he switched her right instead of going for a wider gap on the left about a furlong out as he thought the horse immediately in front of him – the O’Brien-trained Pennsylvania – was leaning to the left.
The decision to move the filly to the right led to some interference and Lordan was adamant he rode her out Music Box with hands and heels as strongly as he could without resorting to the whip.
Quinn pressed Lordan on his claims he had ridden the filly strongly and O’Brien described Quinn’s repeated questioning of Lordan on that subject, and his decision not to switch the filly left about a furlong out, as “terrible”.
He also questioned the decision to show the committee Lordan’s contrasting ride on another newcomer, Longing, who ran third at Leopardstown last week.
O’Brien claimed Longing and Music Box were totally different types of filly and that to compare the two rides was unfair.
In his evidence, O’Brien stated that Music Box, who was making her debut, had proved difficult in the stalls at Ballydoyle two weeks prior to running at Dundalk and that she had become anxious and broke a bit slowly in the Dundalk race.
Get the filly relaxed
He added that his instructions to Lordan were to get the filly relaxed and ride her to obtain the best possible placing, without resorting to the whip.
O’Brien also raised Music Box’s performance at Leopardstown on Saturday, when she finished second under Ryan Moore. “Ryan rode her more prominently than she had been ridden at Dundalk. She raced too keenly and found nothing off the bridle,” he said.
The trainer added that anyone who thought Music Box had been brought to Dundalk to “float around” couldn’t be more wrong.
“I’m very disappointed that the penalties have been upheld but pleased we were not found guilty of schooling,” he said.
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