11 December 2017
1. On 7 December October 2017, the Independent Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry into whether Paul Mulrennan had committed a breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 of the Rules of Racing in respect of his use of the whip when riding CANADIAN GEORGE (FR) in the 32Red.com Nursery Handicap (Class 5) at Newcastle on Friday, 24 November 2017.
2. The matter was referred to the Panel by the Newcastle Stewards because it was Mr Mulrennan’s fifth offence of misuse of the whip, each such offence warranting a suspension of between 2 and 6 days, in the preceding 6 months.
3. needed). The BHA’s case was presented by Miss Lauren Robinson, BHA Case Manager, and there was no objection taken to the constitution of the Panel.
4. At the beginning of the hearing, Mr Mac Neice admitted that Mr Mulrennan was in breach of the relevant whip rule. That is consistent with Mr Mulrennan’s prompt admission to the Newcastle Stewards that he hit the horse 11 times during the latter stages of the race. He told them that “the only thing I would say is that it was a long way out and he’s responding all the way. I put it down, I think, 3 times and pulled it through twice, 3 times”
Our Findings of Fact
5. The Panel viewed various video recordings of the race and heard oral submissions from both Ms Robinson and Mr Mac Neice.
6. We can summarise our findings as follows:-
i) Mr Mulrennan used his whip in the forehand on 11 occasions within the last 2 furlongs: that is 4 hits above the permitted level of 7.
ii) In doing so, he used his whip twice in the right hand, pulled it through and used it another 4 times in the left hand and then pulled it through again and used it another 5 times in his right hand.
iii) In accordance with the discretion provided on page 23 of the Guide to Procedures and Penalties 2017 (the Guide), we discount one hit for the fact that the use of the whip was over a (relatively) long distance and another for the fact that on some of those occasions, the whip was used with little force and, at one point, the horse was hanging.
iv) In reaching that conclusion, we had regard to the submission of Mr Mac Neice that we might discount as many as three hits because of the fact that the horse was hanging, because of the distance over and moderation with which the whip was used. Notwithstanding those factors, we nevertheless consider that we should discount only two of the 11 hits.
7. It follows that we find that Mr Mulrennan was in breach of Schedule (B)6 part 2 of the Rules of Racing in that he used the whip 9 times inside the last 2 furlongs – that is, two times more than the permitted number – and, as such, the minimum penalty provided by the Guide would be a suspension of 4 days (see page 26).
8. The case is referred to this Panel because it is Mr Mulrennan’s fifth suspension of between 2 and 6 days within the previous 6 months.
9. The Guide provides (at page 24) that for a fifth such suspension, the rider should receive a suspension of between 14 and 42 days with an entry point of 21 days.
10. Ms Robinson, on behalf of the BHA, very fairly outlined what the BHA accepts as mitigating factors making a suspension below the entry point appropriate in this case.
i) All five offences have taken place over nearly five and a half months (the first in time being at Hamilton Park on 14 June 2017, the most recent before the Newcastle race being at Redcar on 20 October). Had there been a gap of 6 months, there would have been no referral.
ii) During that 6 month period, Mr Mulrennan has had 529 rides in Great Britain and, during the period within which the suspensions have occurred, he has had 457 rides which is nearly twice the average.
iii) Mr Mulrennan has not previously been referred for a whip offence.
11. Had there been no countervailing factors, this might well have been a case for a suspension at or very close to the entry point. However, despite the emphasis that Mr Mac Neice rightly places on Mr Mulrennan’s riding record, the very large numbers of rides he has had (he is in breach on 1 in 91 rides against a BHA average of 1 in 50) and the length of time between the first and last offences, we have regard for two aggravating factors.
12. First, in one of the previous cases (Redcar on 20 October 2017), Mr Mulrennan has received a 4 day suspension (the other 3 offences were all 2 days cases). Second, as we have already found, the present case, had it stood alone, would itself have attracted a 4 day suspension.
13. In those circumstances, we consider that the right penalty is a suspension for 18 days but we consider it appropriate to defer one-third of that suspension for 2 months. The suspension will therefore run from Friday 15 December 2017 to Friday 29 December 2017 inclusive (being days on which Flat Racing is scheduled) and the further 6 days suspension will be deferred until 28 February 2018.