THE impact of the efforts this season by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) to increase it’s policing of riding standards at point-to-points has been evident this season with the number of suspensions that have been issued in recent months.
The use of a video camera by IHRB officials had gradually been introduced in recent seasons in advance of its full roll out at all fixtures during the latest autumn season.
Those eagle-eyed racegoers will no doubt have already spotted an IHRB official out on the track videoing the closing stages of races from a near head-on position.
That autumn rollout has continued into the spring term where a mobile camcorder will continue to be used at every point-to-point fixture.
The benefit for IHRB officials at point-to-point fixtures of the increased technology being available to them has been evident since the start of the season with 22 individual suspensions handed out up to the first weekend in February.
While the camcorder is being used to monitor both the start of races and the use of the whip in the latter stages, each of these suspensions have resulted from breaches of the latter covering a range of whip-related offences under Regulation 58.
This has varied from excessive frequency, using the whip without giving time for the rider’s mount to respond, using the whip with the rider’s arm above shoulder height, and use of the whip unnecessarily when the rider’s mount had achieved its maximum placing.
Point-to-pointing not only has educating young equine talent as one of its core pillars but also as a proven path for young riders to develop their skills and this new enhanced focus on policing the use of the whip alongside the presence of RACE at some fixtures with their mobile training unit, will be a particular addition to younger riders developing their skills during the formative stage of their careers.
While two fixtures in particular, the Boulta meeting on December 12th and the recent Ballinaboola fixture on February 6th produced nine individual sanctions between them, the low rate of breaches, just 22 from a total of 2,379 runners in 270 races during the period in focus, is a testament to the standards at present.
Only four riders have fallen foul of the regulations on repeat occasions this season up to the beginning of this month, and while the coming weeks of the peak season could see that rate increase, it would not seem to be a rate that causes particular concern at present.
The improved technology also has positives for riders. Not only could it protect them in instances where the starter may challenge behaviour during the start of a race, but it is also allows riders to challenge the decision of race day stewards at a subsequent appeal.
This was the case when Tiernan Power had the one-day suspension that he picked up at Tyrella last month overturned on appeal.
Having been found in breach of Regulation 58(4)(a) in that he had used his whip without giving his mount time to respond, the appeals body, who viewed the recording of the closing stages during the subsequent appeal hearing, could not be satisfied that he was in breach of that rule and allowed the appeal.
at Lismore to
NEXT Sunday will be a big day for the Lismore point-to-point committee as they unveil a brand new course for their 2022 fixture.
Their previous course on the Lismore estate has been home to the popular fixture since 1923, and in that time it has developed an enviable roll of honour having played host to any number of future equine stars across the decades, including subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National winners. Beginning with the 1946 Grand National winner Lovely Cottage, other stars of the sport to have graced the turf at Lismore have included Gold Cup winners Bregawn, Cool Ground and Best Mate, with Florida Pearl going on to claim a haul of nine Grade 1 successes after his debut victory at the venue back in 1996.
For the many loyal supporters of the fixture, the good news is that a new course has been found on the castle estate just 500 metres from the previous track.
One mile in circumference, the track is composed of two long straights with two gradual bends and a slight uphill finish. The entrance for horseboxes will remain the same with spectators parking in the town and accessing the track via the community centre car park.
WEATHER interruptions have led to quite a low-key start to the new crop of four-year-old maiden races this month. That will begin to step-up a gear beginning tomorrow when Lisronagh hosts the opening four-year-old maiden of the year for mares.
It will further ramp up next weekend when no fewer than five races within the four-year-old division are set to take place at Tyrella, Borris House, Ballycahane, and the new Lismore venue.
The new season of four-year-old maidens has a particular additional interest for those who keep one eye on pedigrees, with the new crop of four-year-olds often providing a first glimpse in competitive action of the early progeny of first season sires.
Few will forget the introduction that the first offspring of Jet Away made in the opening month of the 2020 four-year-old season which propelled the Arctic Tack Stud resident to the fore.
This time around with the established names of Doyen and Mahler each responsible for a pair of four-year-old winners already this month alongside Blue Bresil and Shirocco, who have had one winner each in the division, Vadamos has been the first stallion to make the crucial breakthrough with his first crop of four-year-olds this year.
André Fabre’s former Group 1 Prix du Moulin winner had his pointing breakthrough courtesy of Matata in Tallow. David Murphy’s bay mastered the testing underfoot conditions as he went on to record a three-length debut success.
Now with Patrick Turley and Aidan Fitzgerald having received hunter certificates for other offspring of Vadamos, attention will be on them to see if he is to be this year’s breakthrough first season sire or if that honour is to go elsewhere.