William Buick / PLAISTERER
The Disciplinary Panel considered an appeal lodged by William Buick, the rider of PLAISTERER, unplaced in the Newsells Park Stud Stakes, against the decision of the Stewards at Newmarket on 16 July 2011, to find him guilty of a breach of Rule (B)126.96.36.199 in that he failed to ride out approaching the finish on a horse that would have been placed sixth and to suspend him from riding for 2 days.
The Panel heard evidence from Buick, who was legally represented, and also viewed video recordings of the race.
The recordings showed that Buick’s mount led the pack chasing the long-time leader, OPERA GAL (IRE), until almost 4 furlongs from the finish, when Buick asked her for an effort. Her response was limited and others went past her. About 1½ furlongs from home, Buick was at the rear of the chasing pack but about half a dozen lengths clear of the two long time back markers in the field. At this point, Buick stood up, dropped his hands and took a long look over his right shoulder. His mare was then allowed to come home in her own time, without any forward urging at all from him. Both CHARLSTON LADY, ridden by Martin Lane, and MONICALEW, ridden by John Fahy, passed PLAISTERER on the run in and finished 6th and 7th respectively. Neither of those fillies were being ridden vigorously, but both were being given a hands and heels ride as the Rules require. PLAISTERER, (having been about 6 lengths clear of the two back markers when 1½ furlongs from home), was beaten 11 lengths for 6th place, and crossed the line at little more than a walk.
Buick did not make any report at Scales, and told both the Stewards and this Panel that he simply forgot to do so. His evidence was that he ought to have reported (as Rule (D)49 requires) that his mare had nothing left to give. He amplified this by saying that he felt she was “exhausted”, and that an additional reason for concern was that she was in foal, and that this was to be her last race. When asked whether he considered pulling her up, he responded that he had thought about it, but decided not to because she was just very tired.
Was there a breach of Rule (B)59 – the requirement to ride a horse on its merits – in these circumstances? The Panel decided that there was for the final 1½ furlongs, Buick did nothing to seek to encourage the mare to go forward at all. If she had really been “exhausted”, he should have pulled up. If he had some welfare concern because she was in foal, he should have pulled up. If she was “tired”, as he told this Panel, he was still obliged to attempt to race by giving a minimum hands and heels effort to demonstrate what he said he ought to have, but forgot, to report at Scales, namely that she had nothing more to give.
The Panel accepted that the mare was probably tired as Buick said: the race was timely run; he had her well positioned and asked for four effort 4 furlongs out; the ground was good to soft and softening throughout a wet day; she had lost position despite Buick’s efforts earlier. But she was still in a race with 1½ furlongs to go, and there was 6th place prize money available in this Listed Race. If she had nothing more to give, it was necessary for Buick to demonstrate that by seeing what more she could do. He did not, and he was beaten into last place by both back markers who were themselves being asked for no more than the minimum effort than the Rule demands.
On the question of penalty, the Panel decided that it was not possible to conclude (as had the Stewards at Newmarket) that PLAISTERER would have finished 6th if Buick had ridden as the Rule requires. He was beaten 11 lengths for that place. But he could have. The way he rode for the last 1½ furlongs makes the question impossible to answer one way or another. If he had tried to impart some forward momentum, he might have got sufficient response to keep 6th place. Or he might have demonstrated that PLAISTERER had no more to give. So this was a case which fell within subdivision c) of the types of breach of Rule (B)59 referred to on page 12 of the Guide to Procedures and Penalties, and the recommended penalty is a suspension of 1 day. The Panel decided that this was the right penalty to impose. It also decided to impose a fine of £140 (the Band B standard fine) for Buick’s failure to make a report at Scales, in breach of Rule (D)49.
Buick’s appeal was therefore allowed to this extent. His 2 day suspension was reduced to 1 day (on 31 July 2011) and he was fined £140.