“I find the whole thing very confusing”
The Turf Club Appeals committee today disallowed the appeals of Aidan O’Brien and Wayne Lordan with regard to the running and riding of Music Box in a maiden at Dundalk on March 31st.
O’Brien will have to pay a fine of €2000 while Lordan will be suspended for five days. Music Box will also be suspended from racing for 42 days.
The Appeals committee found O’Brien and Lordan guilty on the subsection (ii) of Rule 212A, which relates to a horse who hasn’t been seen to have been given timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible position. The pair were exonerated on the subsection (iii) which in part, refers to using the racecourse as a schooling ground.
The appeals centred around a one-mile maiden won by Asking at Dundalk last month. Music Box, having her first run, finished third, and was only beaten a length and a nose by the winner, who was one of two other horses trained by O’Brien in the race.
The raceday stewards found that connections were in breach of the above-mentioned two parts of Rule 212, which was redrafted earlier this year. On the night, O’Brien labelled the decision as bizarre and reaffirmed that view after the verdict.
“Obviously we were happy to get off on the third part of the rule but very disappointed to have been found guilty of the second part,” O’Brien said. “It is just very confusing really and it’s hard for us to get our heads around it. It is going to be confusing for everyone going forward.”
In his evidence O’Brien, who was representing himself, said he was delighted with the ride Wayne Lordan gave Music Box. He labelled the filly as nervous and said that he instructed Lordan to get the her to relax, then to get her make the best of her way home and in an ideal world, not to use the stick.
O’Brien said that his gut instinct with Music Box, who cost 700,000gns, was that she needed to be ridden patiently and that would allow her to come home better.
He pointed out that he had subsequently run her again at Leopardstown on Saturday and against his better judgement and as a result of this case, had instructed her rider Ryan Moore to ride her more forcefully and that the result of that was that she ran too free and fell in a hole.
Lordan was questioned extensively by stewards’ secretary Shay Quinn, representing the Turf Club, about his ride and in particular his decision not to take a gap on the rail in the straight and thereafter his riding which Quinn suggested could have been more vigorous.
Lordan referred to decision not to take the gap on the rail as a 50-50 call and felt that it would be better to follow the horse on his right who was travelling in a straighter line. From there he pushed and squeezed Music Box and the pair just missed out on second.
The Appeals Panel consisting of Joe Finnegan (chair), Nick Lambert and Leslie Crawford, concentrated on this part of the race in their verdict and were of the opinion that with a stronger ride, Music Box could have finished second.