Results of an appeal (Tom Messenger) and an enquiry (Kieren Fox) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Monday 20 July

20 Jul 2015

Tom Messenger

1. On 20 July 2015 the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) heard an appeal by Tom Messenger against the decision of the Worcester Stewards to suspend his licence for 10 days for failing to ride CROSSLANES (IRE) on its merits in the Maiden Hurdle Race at Worcester on 6 July 2015. The particular failing identified by the Worcester Stewards was that described in Rule (B)59.4 – that Messenger failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ride the filly on its merits.

2. The inquiry before the Panel took the form (as always in such cases) of a rehearing rather than a mere review of the Worcester decision. The BHA’s case was presented by Lyn Williams. Messenger, who gave evidence, was represented by Rory Mac Neice.

3. On behalf of the BHA, Mr Williams accepted that Messenger’s instructions were to drop the filly in, get her settled and to ride her to finish the race off nicely.  He had no criticism of the ride until turning into the home straight with three flights to jump.  It was said from this point until the line Messenger failed to make every effort to obtain the best possible placing.  He chose to hold on to the filly’s head and keep her balanced without making any positive effort to gain ground on the horses in front of him.

4. Mr Mac Neice, on behalf of Messenger, asked the Panel to consider the race as a whole rather than only concentrate on the closing stages.  He said that Messenger was one of the first jockeys to ask for an effort and that from the fifth last, at the end of the back straight, and around the home bend he had been making effort to hold his position.  He told the Panel that this effort was real and sustained.

5. Messenger giving evidence told the Panel that he often rode the filly at home and that he had ridden her in her previous run for the trainer.  He said she was weak and easily became unbalanced, and that he dropped her in towards the back of the field as she had previously been very keen.  He said that she had been racing on and off the bridle for the first mile and then he had to work to maintain his position around the final bend and into the home straight.  His intention was to rebalance the filly turning in, and said that from here to the line she failed to quicken.  He maintained he was encouraging her to do so, while keeping hold of the head and keeping her balanced all the way to the line.

6. The Panel deemed that Messenger, although sympathetic to the filly, having jumped the final three flights adequately and had an uninterrupted run to the line, was in a position to ask for more effort.  It therefore came to the conclusion that Messenger was in breach of Rule (B)59.4 in that he failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure that he achieved the best possible placing.

7. The Panel decided when considering penalty that Messenger gave credible evidence which, in part they accepted and understood.  It was therefore its decision to reduce the penalty imposed by the Worcester Stewards to 8 days from Thursday 23 July to Friday 31 July 2015 inclusive.  As the Appeal was upheld in part, the deposit was automatically returned.

Kieren Fox

1. The Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on 20 July 2015 held an enquiry to establish whether or not Kieren Fox, the rider of MULLIONHEIR, placed fourth in the Betfred Mobile Stakes at Newmarket on 10 July 2015, had committed a breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 of the Rules of Racing concerning his use of the whip.  The matter was referred to the Authority by the Newmarket Stewards following an enquiry on the same day because this was Fox’s fifth offence of mis-use of the whip, warranting a suspension of between 2 to 6 days, in the last 6 months.

2. The BHA’s case was presented by Lyn Williams.  Fox was represented by Rory Mac Neice, who gave submissions to the Panel.  The Panel also viewed recordings of the race.

3. The Panel accepted Fox’s admission that he was guilty of misuse of the whip in that he had used his whip above the permitted level at Newmarket on 10 July 2015.  It considered that the breach would have warranted a suspension of 4 days.

4. Fox has thus committed 5 whip breaches (2 of them leading to 2 day suspensions and 3 of them producing 4 day suspensions) since 1 February 2015.  In that time, he had 82 rides.  The Panel suspended him from riding for 23 days, of which 7 days are deferred for 6 weeks until 23 September 2015.  The presently operative part of the suspension will run from Tuesday 28 July 2015 until Wednesday 12 August 2015 inclusive.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Panel for the enquiries was: Lucinda Cavendish (Chair), Roger Bellamy and Jeremy Barlow