THE Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board will investigate the circumstances surrounding an incident at Down Royal on December 26th in which the entire field in the beginners chase bypassed a fence which was not dolled off in the usual way.
Jockey Conor Brassil, who won the race on the Henry de Bromhead-trained Innovated, told The Irish Field: “I was going to jump the second last but, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a big hole in the fence where there had been a faller on the first circuit.
“I was still planning on jumping it until I saw a fence attendant with an orange flag running towards us. She slipped while running and I wondered if perhaps there was an injured jockey at the other side of the fence. At the last minute I decided to go around it and so did all the other runners.”
Brassil and the other seven jockeys who passed the post were called to a stewards’ enquiry, along with clerk of the course Tracey O’Meara and Megan Leigh, the person manning the road crossing and who the riders recognised as attempting to run into position while holding an orange flag.
The official stewards’ report said: “The riders’ general comments referred to observing a person with an orange flag running to signal a bypass was in place, hearing shouting and they realising that there was a large hole in the fence rendering it unsafe to jump.
“Having considered all the evidence and the circumstances that led to confusion at the second last fence, the Raceday Stewards using their powers under Rule 10 were satisfied to allow the result to stand. In view of the circumstances that occurred at the second last fence, the stewards decided to refer this matter to the CEO for a full investigation.”
Brassil added: “Normally there would be a doll or marker in the fence advising you not to jump it. We were told there had been a miscommunication between the groundstaff. They had been trying to get someone to doll it off but nobody could do it.
“I don’t know what the stewards would have done if one of the runners had jumped the fence and completed the course. Luckily for me, everyone followed me around the fence and the stewards did not declare the race void.”
RULE 32 (ix)
[The clerk of the course is] the person having the ultimate responsibility for deciding to bypass a fence or hurdle, having full authority to invoke such bypassing procedures for whatever reason and to take steps he feels necessary in order to address any emergency which might occur during the course of a race including the stopping of a race in accordance with Rule 224. He shall be assisted in carrying out bypassing procedures by the safety official. When bypassing is taking place, one of the fence attendants or racecourse staff shall proceed up the track to warn oncoming riders by waving an orange flag.