Result of an Appeal (P. Gregory) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 1 April 2021

Published 2021/04/07

Result of an Appeal (P. Gregory) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 1 April 2021 07/04/2021 @ 12:00:00 Paul Gregory - Gizza Job

1. On 1 April 2021 the independent Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) heard an appeal lodged by Mr Paul Gregory, the owner of a horse named GIZZA JOB, against the decision of the Stewards at Southwell on 7 February 2021 who found the horse GIZZA JOB to be in breach of Rule (F)17 of the Rules of Racing in that, on that day, GIZZA JOB was unruly and would not enter the stalls. The Starter made a report to the Southwell Stewards of the circumstances and, in view of the fact that this was the third Starters report within twelve months in relation to GIZZA JOB, the Stewards ordered that GIZZA JOB would not be able to have a stalls test for six months, pursuant to Rule (F)21.

2. The appeal was lodged on 12 March 2021 by solicitors acting on behalf of Mr Gregory. The grounds of appeal were set out as follows:

a. The horse has proved on two stalls tests that she is capable of entering a stall;

b. The horse is a manageable horse and without malice, but she needs firm encouragement to enter a stall when there are distractions;

c. The stall handler(s) at that race showed inexperience in handling the horse, which in turn, spooked her, and which resulted in her not entering a stall;

d. Whilst there is an automatic six months ban on taking a third stalls test under Rule (F)21, such a provision must be properly reviewed in view of all the circumstances;

e. In interpreting the Rules, the BHA are required to do so in accordance with Natural Justice, and whilst factually the horse did not enter the stall on the day in question, the reason for her not doing so, and referred to above, should properly be considered and taken into account;

f. In response to the request to identify any special behavioural characteristics for the horse the response was :- “This horse may require an extra push as advised by Seamus O’Neil. There is no malice in her. She just needs a little encouragement. Please select the staff member who is primary contact when you are on course for this runner”. Michael Mullineaux (Trainer).

g. Unfortunately, these requirements were ignored and with the consequence she was penalised unfairly.

3. The BHA was represented by Mr Lyn Williams. Mr Gregory appeared in person and was not legally represented. There was no objection to the constitution of the Panel.

4. Appeals to the Disciplinary Panel are conducted as a rehearing.

5. The Background On 19 July 2020 GIZZA JOB ran in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury. She was unruly at the start but did eventually enter the stalls. As a result of the unruliness displayed the Starter made a report to the Stewards and the latter ordered GIZZA JOB to undergo a stalls test. GIZZA JOB subsequently passed the stalls test. On 20 August 2020 GIZZA JOB ran at Chester. She was again unruly at the start but did ultimately enter the stalls. As had happened at Newbury, the Chester Starter made a report to the Stewards such was the nature of the horse’s behaviour. The Chester Stewards issued a warning and ordered a further stalls test which GIZZA JOB subsequently passed.

6. Turning to the events at Southwell on 7 February 2021 it is clear that there was a marked deterioration in the behaviour of GIZZA JOB. The filly was noted to be “on her toes” in the parade ring but walking round appropriately. However, on the signal to mount she shot forward as the jockey threw his leg over to mount. GIZZA JOB escaped from the control of her handler and ran towards the elbow of the chute, colliding with the rail and depositing the jockey in the hedge between the two rails. The filly briefly ran loose but was caught. The jockey, having extricated himself from the hedge, tried to remount on a number of occasions in the chute and once again out on the track but was unable to do so as the filly kept darting away from him. In the event, the jockey had no option but to take the horse’s reins and lead her down to the start at a run. All the above was witnessed by Louise Moore who was the Chief Steward on the day. It is noteworthy that the other four runners were waiting at the start for the arrival of GIZZA JOB.

7. At the start, loading was commenced upon the arrival of GIZZA JOB. The other runners loaded smoothly with GIZZA JOB the last to be loaded. However, even with the assistance of the stalls handlers the jockey was unable to mount GIZZA JOB. Efforts were then made to load the filly riderless. GIZZA JOB showed extreme reluctance to enter the stalls and the Starter took the decision to withdraw her and made a report to the Stewards. The other horses were sent on their way at 14.12.50 – very nearly 8 minutes after the advertised time. This delay was caused by the behaviour of GIZZA JOB.

8. The Stewards at Southwell held an enquiry at which GIZZA JOB’s trainer, Michael Mullineaux, was present. He said that he went to the start for the horse’s races at Newbury and Chester and she went into the stalls. He did not go down to the start for the Southwell race. He said that GIZZA JOB normally wore blinkers but did not wear blinkers at Southwell. Mr Mullineaux suggested that when the jockey tried to mount GIZZA JOB in the parade ring “the sheet blew up and she just went forwards and that is why he could not get on her”. Mr Mullineaux made no complaint to the Southwell Stewards that the filly had been unfairly treated. Since this was the third time within twelve months that GIZZA JOB had been reported the Stewards ordered that GIZZA JOB would be prevented from undergoing a stalls test for six months pursuant to Rule (F)21.

9. The case for the BHA Lyn Williams put the case for the BHA simply and succinctly. By virtue of Rule (F)21 “where a horse is subject to a third Starters report, it may not attempt a stalls test for six months”. It was conceded by Mr Williams that the Panel could “remove” the Southwell Starter’s report if there were proper and reasonable grounds for so doing. He submitted that no such grounds existed. Mr Williams submitted that the penalty was mandatory and the Panel had no power to reduce the six month period before the next stalls test could be taken.

10. The case for the Appellant In the event, many of the grounds of appeal referred to in paragraph 2 (above) were not pursued. Importantly, it was not suggested that there was any, or any real, blame to be apportioned to the stalls handlers, the Starter or, indeed, any official at Southwell on the day in question. Mr Gregory also accepted that GIZZA JOB was unruly on her previous starts at Newbury and Chester. The thrust of Mr Gregory’s argument was that he was a first-time owner with one horse in training and that a six month ban from taking a stalls test would, in effect, wipe out most of the forthcoming flat season. He did not contend that Rule (F)21 had no application to this case but he sought to persuade the Panel to impose a shorter period than the mandatory six months before the next stalls test could be taken on the grounds of leniency and mercy.

11. Findings The Panel found that there was no reason at all to set aside the Starter’s report in relation to the behaviour of GIZZA JOB at Southwell. The horse was clearly in breach of Rule (F)17.1. In fact, the behaviour of the filly put her in breach of Rule (F)17.2 and 17.3 also. The Panel found that no fault of any kind could be laid at the door of any official or employee at Southwell on the day in question. In relation to Rule (F)21 the penalty is mandatory and the Panel found that there is no inherent discretion to impose a shorter period before the next stalls test may be taken. Mr Gregory can rest assured that, before reaching its decision, the Panel gave full consideration to the matters raised in the Notice of Appeal and to the submissions which he made during the hearing.

12. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed. Whilst the Panel was impressed by the measured and cordial approach of Mr Gregory in the presentation of his submissions the Panel nevertheless takes the view that this appeal was unarguable, with little or no prospect of success.

The Panel therefore orders that Mr Gregory should forfeit his deposit.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Panel for the Appeal was: David Fish QC, Lyn Griffiths and Steve Winfield.