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Result of an appeal (Andrew Thornton) and an enquiry (Towcester Racecourse) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 5 March

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Andrew Thornton

The Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Thursday 5 March 2015 considered an appeal lodged by Andrew Thornton, the rider of SAUCYSIOUX, placed third in the Follow @AtTheRaces On Twitter Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race, against the decision of the Stewards at Plumpton on 23 February 2015 to suspend Thornton for six days, this being his second offence.

The suspension was as a result of a finding of a breach of Rule (B)67.4.3 of the Rules of Racing in that he had weighed in at 2lb over the weight at which he had weighed out. 

The Panel heard from the BHA and Thornton, who was legally represented.

The Panel noted that it was Thornton’s responsibility to make himself aware of the fact that his weight at weighing out was 151.5lbs, that was 0.5lbs overweight, and given the racecourse conditions on the day (particularly that the going was ‘heavy’ and it was the last race) he should have been aware of the potential risk of weighing in overweight, and that in the circumstances the Stewards correctly decided against exercising the discretion given to them under Rule (B)67.11, found Thornton in breach and imposed a penalty upon him.

However, whilst noting that this was Thornton’s second offence for weighing in overweight in the last 12 months, and that the Guide to Procedures and Penalties indicated a doubling of the penalty, the Panel considered the facts of the present case were different from the previous breach. The Panel accepted Thornton returned to Scale following the race, which was run on heavy and poached ground, covered in mud.

In all the circumstances, exercising its discretion, the Panel quashed the six day suspension and considered that a suspension of three days on Monday 9 March, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 March 2015 inclusive, was appropriate. It ordered that the deposit be returned.

Towcester Racecourse

The Disciplinary Panel of the BHA on Thursday 5 March 2015 held an enquiry to consider whether or not the Managing Executive of Towcester Racecourse had committed breaches of Rule (F)15.2.3 of the Rules of Racing, in the light of BHA General Instruction 12.1 and 11.2, headed “Racecourse Veterinary and Sampling Unit Personnel – Requirements And Duties/Standing Orders”, on 26 December 2014 in that:

  • BHAGI 12.1 para 8b - the Senior Veterinary Surgeon on duty failed to ensure that the Horse Ambulance and the Recovery Vehicle (and their staff) were in attendance at least 1 hour before the advertised time of the first race; and
  • BHAGI 12.1 para 8h – the Senior Veterinary Surgeon on duty failed to ensure that the methods of communication were properly understood by the Horse Ambulance and Recovery Vehicle drivers and that each of the respective drivers had collected and tested their radios at least 30 minutes before the advertised time of the first race.

The Panel heard submissions from the BHA, Robert Bellamy, Clerk of the Course, and Nick Jones.

The Panel noted that the contractor who provided the Horse Ambulance and Recovery Vehicle had let them down by providing two Recovery Vehicles instead of one Recovery Vehicle and one Horse Ambulance, which caused a delay to racing until the correct vehicles were present on the racecourse. The Panel also noted that the Managing Executive had to bear overall responsibility for these breaches, although on this occasion it was clear that it was the contractor that was at fault.

Having considered the evidence the Panel accepted an admission that it was in breach of Rule (F)15.2.3 and fined the Executive £1,000.

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