1. On 16 June 2016, the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) heard an appeal brought by the jockey Jim Crowley, the rider of ARISTOCLES (IRE), against the decision by the Nottingham Stewards to find him in breach of Rule (B)54.2 and to suspend him for 4 days for improper riding in the toteswinger Three Ways to Win Handicap Stakes on 1 June 2016.
2. Prior to the enquiry, both parties had agreed that they had no objection to the Panel members sitting.
3. As always, the Disciplinary Panel approached this type of appeal as a re-hearing. Mr Crowley was represented by Rory Mac Neice and the BHA’s case was presented by Lyn Williams. Andrea Atzeni, the rider of KALAMATA, was also in attendance.
4. Mr Williams, on behalf of the BHA, stated that Mr Crowley, near the four furlong marker had manoeuvred right to create a run, thereby carrying KALAMATA off its intended line, when Mr Crowley knew or ought reasonably to have known that interference would occur. The BHA accepted that the effect of the interference was minimal.
5. Mr Mac Neice, on behalf of Mr Crowley, stated that Mr Crowley accepted that he had moved to his right and as a consequence had caused minimal interference to Mr Atzeni, who at no time had to stop riding, but Mr Crowley stated that coming off the bend and being up to ½ a length up on Mr Atzeni, and expecting PALISADE, ridden by Luke Morris, who was in front, to pick up quicker than he did, he may have made a misjudgement, but denied that he knew or ought reasonably to have known that interference would occur.
6. The Disciplinary Panel noted at the outset that Rule (B)54.2 as drafted reads “A rider is guilty of improper riding if he causes interference by making a manoeuvre when he knows or ought reasonably to have known that interference could occur”.
7. However, in the BHA Guide to Procedures and Penalties 2016, invariably used on racecourses, the wording reads as follows “A rider is guilty of improper riding if he causes interference by some manoeuvre where he knew or ought reasonably to have known that interference would be the result”.
8. There is thus an important and unfortunate discrepancy between the Rule as drafted, and as set out in the booklet used by officials on the racecourse. Clarification is needed as a matter of urgency so that there is alignment between the Rule Book and the Guide.
9. The BHA, through Mr Williams, very sensibly, for the purposes of this Disciplinary Panel enquiry, agreed that the wording in the Guide to Procedures and Penalties be used.
10. Having viewed the various camera footage, and taking into account that some foreshortened and some widened the space between the relevant horses, the Panel concluded that as they came off the bend, the head of Mr Crowley’s horse was positioned right, as a result of it hanging left. Mr Crowley then manoeuvred right and did minimally interfere with Mr Atzeni who did not have to stop riding. The Panel were not satisfied in all the circumstances, that Mr Crowley knew or ought reasonable to have known that interference would occur, but made a momentary misjudgement, and that this amounted to careless riding.
11. The Panel therefore upheld the appeal and quashed the 4 day suspension for improper riding and returned his deposit. The Panel, for the careless riding, cautioned Mr Crowley as to his future conduct in races.
Notes to Editors:
1. The Panel for the enquiry was: Philip Curl (Chair), Roger Bellamy and Ian Stark
2. The BHA notes the discrepancy between the wording of the rule on improper riding as it appears in the Rule Book, and as set out in the Guide to Procedures and Penalties. Our consultations with the PJA were based on the wording set out in the Guide. We will now take the necessary steps to ensure this is reflected in the Rule Book.