JUDICIAL PANEL NEWS REPORT

Published 2022/08/04

Result of an Appeal (K. Woods) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Monday 25 July 04/08/2022 @ 14:00:00

Kielan Woods

Before the independent Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on 25 July 2022 : An Appeal by the licensed jockey Mr Kielan Woods against the findings of the Stewards at Worcester Racecourse on 14th July 2022 A) to find him guilty of Careless Riding under Rule (F) 35 and B) to impose for the breach as found suspension of his licence for 7 days.

The BHA was represented by Ms Charlotte Davison of counsel and Kielan Woods was represented by Mr Rory Mac Neice of Ashfords LLP. There were no objections to the constitution of the Panel.

1. The Race:

This was the The event masters.co.uk Handicap Hurdle Race (Class 5) on 14 July 2022. After the final hurdle in the back straight, as was agreed between the parties, considerable interference was caused to MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) ridden by Ms Emma Smith - Chaston. The horse stumbled and the rider was nearly unseated. The horse immediately involved which came into contact with MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) was STIGWOOD (IRE) ridden by the Appellant. Other horses involved less significantly were BARELY FAMOUS (IRE) (ridden by Charlie Hammond) and KAPITSLISTE (FR) (ridden by Phillip Armson) . BARELY FAMOUS (IRE) was closest to the inside rail, STIGWOOD (IRE) was in between and KAPITALISTE (FR) was to the outside. The incident occurred near to and at a left hand bend and at which there was a slight outward kink in the rails. MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) was approaching the above 3 horses taking a line to come between BARELY FAMOUS (IRE) and STIGWOOD (IRE) making up ground on both. There was then contact between STIGWOOD (IRE) and MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) and the latter horse stumbled, nearly causing Ms Smith Chaston to unseat.

What Happened and Why?

A: The Stewards Conclusion, supported by the BHA in the Appeal, summarised as follows:

That the considerable interference was caused by the Appellant who without regard to the presence of BARELY FAMOUS (IRE) and the ever closing presence of MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) took and followed a line straight for the apex of the left hand bend, rather than “riding the bend“ following a more circular course and thus allowing sufficient space for horses on his inside, the presence of both of which he should have been aware. He either knew that MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) was there or should have known and thus should have ridden a line to ensure that there was room for the 2 horses on his inside. As far as configuration of the course is concerned, it is the responsibility of each jockey to acquaint himself/herself fully with it.

B. The Appellant’s Case, summarised as follows:

That he accepted that the course of STIGWOOD (IRE) was in a line towards the apex of the bend; that however was contributed to by the natural tendency of horses to go towards the rail on a tight left hand bend; that the course taken created no problems based on the presence of but 1 and not 2 horses close on his inside; that he was not aware of the presence of MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) coming between him and Mr Hammond’s mount and that Ms Smith- Chaston should not have gone for a perceived gap which was in fact never there; that he was pressurised from right and left by Mr Armson on his right moving left and Mr Hammond moving to the right, such pressure leaving him “nowhere to go,” that this effect was increased by general bunching up as the field negotiated a tight left hand bend and the interference was accidental.

Thus, given that there was interference and the course taken straight for the apex of the bend, a significant issue arose : was the Appellant aware or if not, should he have been aware of the closing presence of MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) to his inside?

2. Careless Riding:

Rule (F)35 provides that “ A rider is guilty of Careless Riding if he fails to take reasonable steps to avoid causing interference or causes interference by inattention or misjudgement.”

3. Stewards Enquiry:

At the conclusion of the above the Stewards concluded:

“Woods (sic) was suspended for 7 days for careless riding as he failed to take sufficient steps to avoid causing interference to Smith-Chaston (sic) who had established a legitimate position to his inside over a period of approximately 9 seconds after jumping the final hurdle in the back straight, resulting in MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) losing its position and stumbling badly.”

4. Video Footage and Timings:

Timing 20.59.16.05 – 20.59.18.13 : Having jumped the last the Appellant was positioned with MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) and BARELY FAMOUS (IRE) on his inside. KAPITALISTE (FR) is a good width to his outside;

20.59.18.13 - 20.59.26.08 : MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) now less than ½ a length behind STIGWOOD (IRE) then improves to a neck behind;

The Appellant then angles his horse in a line towards the apex of the bend leaving but room for 1 horse on his inside. He makes contact with MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) from 20.59.24.07 squeezing Ms Smith-Chaston out. By contrast, KAPITALISTE (FR) maintained his line approaching the bend. 20.59.26.08 : Ms Smith- Chaston stops riding, has no room and stumbles badly : the rider is almost unseated.

5. The Appeal:

We heard submissions from both parties in a 2 hour hearing. We watched video footage a number of times from all relevant angles and at varying speeds. We heard evidence from Ms Smith- Chaston which included :

• I saw a gap, I’ve gone for it but ended up losing it, the gap was there ..

• Charlie Hammond came out a bit..

• the reason for the gap closing was pressure from the horse on the outside - Mr Woods horse In cross examination:

• in the Stewards Enquiry I did say that realistically there was probably no gap but that was my initial thinking

• Charlie Hammond did come out slightly

• I disagree that this was a case of general bunching with too many horses at the bend. From Mr Woods, evidence which included:

• on walking the track the rail pushes you out and bulges towards the apex ... there is a kink

• I accept there was contact

• I was completely unaware of anyone else coming into the space and I was not expecting anyone to do so

• There was nothing I could do, the horse from the outside was coming in (KAPITALISTE (FR) In cross examination

• I agree if you ride to the apex you reduce room on the inside

• I wouldn’t have gone for that gap (ie as Ms Smith-Chaston did).

6. Our Findings:

A] as accepted there was considerable interference; it was not as the Appellant contended accidental;

B] that the Appellant deliberately took a course to ride straight to the apex of the bend thus narrowing the space for horses on his inside;

C] that in so doing he had a duty of care to be aware of horses close on his inside; that he should have been aware had he exercised due care of the close presence of MAC SUIBHNE (IRE) as well as BARELY FAMOUS (IRE); D] that whereas BARELY FAMOUS (IRE) did move out marginally from the rail that created no significant pressure upon the Appellant contributing to the interference; that there was no relevant movement left from KAPITALISTE (FR) putting pressure on the Appellant, the rider of KAPITALISTE (FR) “ rode the bend “ as the Appellant did not ; no such pressure on the Appellant from either side contributed to the interference;

E] that no legitimate criticism could be made of Ms Smith-Chaston’s riding; F] as to the configuration of the track it was the duty of the Appellant to make himself fully aware of it at a track he, as he said himself, knows well.

7. We were very clear as to the above conclusions. However, as to the penalty imposed, without any criticism whatsoever of those responsible for the maintenance of the course, we did take some account of the effect of the evidence of the kink in the rail and the slight outward movement of BARELY FAMOUS (IRE) in our decision to reduce the penalty to one of 5 days suspension as opposed to 7 in the context of a 5-14 guideline range. To that extent the Appeal against the penalty is allowed whereas that against the Stewards finding of Careless Riding is refused. Accordingly, the deposit is to be returned.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Panel for the Appeal was: HH James O'Mahony, Chloe Fairley and Steve Winfield.

Please note, the BHA Judicial Panel is an independent body which encompasses the Disciplinary Panel, Appeal Board and Licensing Committee. It receives administrative support from the BHA via the Judicial Panel Secretary.