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Reasons for Doyle and Standford decisions
15 Jul 2017 | British Horseracing Authority 

James Doyle

1. On 13 July 2017 the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry into whether Mr James Doyle had committed a breach of Schedule (B)6 part 2 of the Rules of Racing in his use of the whip when riding BARNEY ROY in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Class 1) at Sandown Park of Saturday 8 July 2017.

2. The Stewards at Sandown had found that Mr Doyle “had used (his) whip from just over a furlong out above the permitted level”. They evidently decided that he had struck the horse nine times behind plus once on the shoulder whereas the ‘permitted level’, as is well known, is seven times in a Flat race.

3. Because a suspension for this offence would be Mr Doyle’s fifth for a period of two to six days in the previous six months, the Sandown Stewards referred the matter to us, as the Guidelines on penalty require.

4. Both at Sandown and today at the hearing before the Disciplinary Panel, the breach of the Rules of Racing as regards the use of the whip was admitted by Mr Doyle.

Appearances and Constitution of the Panel

5. Mr Doyle attended in person and was represented by Mr Rory Mac Neice. The BHA was represented by Mr Lyn Williams, BHA Case Manager.

6. In advance of the hearing, it was drawn to our attention that one member of the Panel appointed, Mr Mogford, had once been represented by Mr Mac Neice at an enquiry when he rode as a jockey. However, neither party raised any objection to Mr Mogford’s continuing membership of the Panel in advance of the hearing or again today when the Enquiry began.

7. We see no reason for Mr Mogford to stand down from the Panel. The single occasion on which he was represented by Mr Mac Neice was some years ago and such a brief professional relationship does not mean that he is disqualified automatically. Given that the parties were content that Mr Mogford should continue as a member, the view of the Panel was that he should do so.

8. There was no other objection to the composition of the Panel.

The Facts as we find them

9. The Panel viewed recordings of the race taken from three separate angles and read the transcript of the hearing before the Sandown Stewards. We also heard from Mr Williams, who presented the case on behalf of the BHA, and from Mr Mac Neice on behalf of Mr Doyle. Mr Doyle was able to assist us without giving evidence formally.

10. We are grateful to both advocates who presented their respective cases with balance, fairness and moderation. We also comment that Mr Doyle does himself considerable credit by frankly admitting he made a mistake and broke the Rules. He did so when speaking to the Sandown Stewards and to us, acknowledging that he simply miscalculated. We were also told that when he spoke to the Racing Post after the race he recognised that he still has lessons to learn about his use of the whip when riding in this country.

11. We find that Mr Doyle did use the whip nine times but we also find that, save as regards the number of times he used it, his use of the whip was entirely appropriate. We note that he did not pick the whip up immediately he asked the horse for an effort, that he switched it after it responded to the first three hits and that he put it down again inside the final furling and rode the horse out with hands and heels.

The Rules and Guidelines

12. Under Schedule (B)6 Part 2 misuse of the whip – in this case “using the whip on a horse above the permitted level for frequency” - is given as an example of ‘Improper riding’.

13. The ‘permitted level’ is given as seven at paragraph 1 on page 23 of the ‘Guide to Procedures and Penalties 2017’. This booklet provides Guidelines which, whilst not absolutely binding (as the Introduction on page one explains) are intended to guide the exercise of the discretion provided by the Rules and to set out penalties which, in the interests of fairness, should be applied consistently.

14. Given the number of times that Mr Doyle used the whip, we are bound to find that he was guilty of improper riding according to that definition. However, page 23 of the Guide also sets out the circumstances in which the Panel would be entitled to exercise its discretion to disregard one or more than one occasion on which the whip was used.

15. The penalty for using the whip with excessive frequency as set out in the Guidelines at page 26 of the Guide would be two days for exceeding the permitted number by one strike of the whip and four days if exceeding it by two.

16. We accept the submission of Mr Williams, supported by Mr Mac Neice that, on this occasion, we ought to approach the case on the basis that we could and should exercise our discretion to find that Mr Doyle exceeded the permitted number by one so that, ordinarily, two days suspension would be appropriate.

Referral to the Disciplinary Panel

17. Mr Doyle had been suspended for whip offences on four previous occasions during the last six months. On each occasion, his suspension was for two days meaning that, on all such occasions, he had exceeded the permitted number of occasions on which he used the whip by one. Those incidents happened on 13 June, 20 June, 22 June and 3 July 2017.

18. Because this would be Mr Doyle’s fifth suspension of two to six days within the previous six months, the Sandown Stewards were bound to refer the matter to this Panel – see page 24 of the Guide.

19. The recommendation at paragraph 11 on page 24 of the Guide is that where there is a fifth suspension in these circumstances, the Panel “will usually impose a suspension of ….. 14 - 42 days…..with an entry point of 21 days”.

20. The BHA suggested that there were two aggravating factors. The first was that Mr Doyle has had what were said to be slightly fewer rides than other jockeys of equivalent experience and profile (that is, a higher proportion of his rides therefore involved whip offences). We do not think that is much of a point given that Mr Doyle was riding overseas during some of the relevant period and one is not therefore comparing like with like.

21. The second point is that these five incidents have taken place over a relatively short period. That is true but, on the other hand, the Stewards at those meetings on each occasion have found that Mr Doyle exceeded the permitted number only by one. We do also bear in mind that, in each of the five incidents, Mr Doyle was riding horses which either won or finished second. That does not excuse misuse of the whip but it does provide some context: it may be rather more understandable that a jockey miscounts the number of hits in a driving finish than if he or she was riding a horse that had no chance with the winner.

Discussion and Decision

22. The finish of the Eclipse was one of the most exciting that many racegoers and viewers can remember. It seems to be the general opinion – and is certainly the view of this Panel – that both horses involved in the finish (ULYSSES (IRE) and BARNEY ROY) gave absolutely everything for their riders and that both jockeys are to be congratulated on outstanding riding. But the fact remains that Mr Doyle nevertheless exceeded the permitted number of times on which he used the whip in that race.

23. BARNEY ROY was only beaten a nose. No-one could say whether, had he won by that distance, the use of the whip above the permitted level might have made any measurable difference. Such judgments are a matter of opinion and opinions always vary. That is why, although there is inevitably an element of artificiality in drawing the line for the use of the whip at seven rather than at five or ten, the line has to be drawn somewhere. We know, for example, that it was in about 2012 that the BHA introduced the changes to the whip Rules as they are now written. They did so after having consulted widely in the racing industry and having taken account of public opinion. It must therefore be accepted – as Mr Doyle accepts - that the Rules and Guidelines are in place for good reason and the provisions for suspension and the ‘totting up’ provisions are there to deter riders from breaking them.

24. The changes to the Rules to reflect how they are now written were widely publicised and Mr Doyle, like any jockey, knows what they are. That he might exceed the permitted number by a small margin in the heat of an exciting finish to a Group One race may be understandable but, equally obviously, it is not a defence.

25. Deciding the appropriate sanction must take account of the aggravating factor that these five offences all happened within a relatively short space of time on the one hand and of the substantial mitigating factor that in each of the five cases the Stewards have found, as we find, that it is only the number of occasions on which he used the whip which causes Mr Doyle to fall foul of the Rules and that in every case he has exceeded that permitted number only by one (in the case of the Eclipse, this figure being calculated in the light of the exercise of our discretion as per page 23 of the Guide and as explained above). We also take account of Mr Doyle’s frank and immediate recognition of his error.

26. In those circumstances, we set the period of suspension slightly above the lower end of the recommended range of fourteen days but below the ‘entry point’ of twenty one days. Our ruling is that he should be suspended for fifteen days and that, as per paragraph 12 on page 25 of the Guide, one third of that shall be deferred.

27. Mr Doyle will therefore be suspended for the ten days from Saturday, 22 July 2017 to Monday 31 July inclusive and his deferred suspension of five days will be deferred for forty two days to 11 September 2017.

Lulu Stanford

1. On 13 July 2017 the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry into whether or not Ms Lulu Stanford had committed a breach of Schedule (B)6 part 2 of the Rules of Racing in respect of her use of the whip when riding FOREVER YOURS in the Call Star Sports etc Apprentice Handicap (Class 6) at Windsor of Monday 8 July 2017.

2. The Stewards at Windsor found that Ms Stanford “had used (her) whip above the permitted level from just over 2 ½ furlongs out” and it was suggested that she had hit the horse up to twelve times. Ms Stanford did not dispute that she had exceeded the limit of seven which applies to Flat races but told the Stewards that she was changing between the backhand and forehand, that the horse was responding and that on one occasion she hit the running rail rather than the horse. At today’s Enquiry, Ms Stanford frankly admitted her breach of the Rules.

3. Because a suspension for this offence would be Ms Stanford’s fifth for a period of two to six days in the previous six months, the Windsor Stewards referred the matter to us.

4. We heard this enquiry immediately after that involving Mr James Doyle. In the interests of economy, we shall not repeat our observations as regards the background to and reason for the Rules governing a jockey’s use of the whip. Those can be read in our decision in that case and may be taken to be adopted as part of our reasoning in the present case.

Appearances and Constitution of the Panel

5. Ms Stanford attended this hearing in person and was represented by Mr Rory Mac Neice. The BHA was represented by Lyn Williams, BHA Case Manager.

6. In advance of the hearing, as in Mr Doyle’s case, it was drawn to our attention that one member of the Panel appointed, Mr Mogford, had been represented by Mr Mac Neice in the past when he rode as a professional jockey. Neither party raised any objection to Mr Mogford’s continuing membership of the Panel before or at today’s Enquiry. For the same reasons we gave in Mr Doyle’s case, we saw see no reason for Mr Mogford to stand down from the Panel. There was no other objection to the composition of the Panel.

The Facts found

7. The Panel viewed a recording of the race and read the transcript of the hearing before the Windsor Stewards. We also took account of the submissions of Mr Williams and of Mr Mac Neice. Ms Stanford herself contributed to the discussions and we are grateful to all three of them for their moderation and constructive approach to the Enquiry.

8. Although the precise number of occasions on which Ms Stanford did actually hit the horse is not certain, we find that she used the whip at least ten times. We accept that this horse was not an easy ride, having misbehaved before the race and that it needed to be encouraged to take an interest and kept up to its work. We also think that the horse was responding to the whip and that the jockey put the whip down before the line. We accept that, on one occasion, Ms Stanford may have hit the rail rather than the horse and that some use of the whip was with the forehand and some with the backhand. We are, however, clear that Ms Stanford exceeded the permitted level of using the whip on a maximum of seven occasions.

The Rules and Guidelines

9. Under Schedule (B)6 Part 2 misuse of the whip – in this case “using the whip on a horse above the permitted level for frequency” - is given as an example of ‘Improper riding’.

10. The ‘permitted level’ of seven is given at page 23 of the Guide and, given the number of times that Ms Stanford used the whip, we are bound to find that she was guilty of improper riding according to that definition.

11. The sanction in the guidelines for exceeding the limit by three would be seven days. However, in assessing the number of times that Ms Stanford used the whip and the extent to which she exceeded the permitted number, we are entitled to exercise the discretion provided for on page 23 of the Guide. Mr Williams, presenting the BHA’s case, very fairly suggested that, on the basis of that provision, the appropriate sanction for the Windsor offence alone would have been four days in that she certainly exceeded the permitted number of occasions on which she could legitimately use the whip by two. We accept that submission.

12. However, because this would be Ms Stanford’s fifth such suspension of two to six days for a whip offence within the last six months, the matter has to be referred to this Panel (see page 24 of the Guide).

Discussion and Decision

13. As we observed in our reasons for the decision in Mr Doyle’s case, the changes to the whip Rules made by the BHA were introduced after wide consultation in the racing industry and having taken account of public opinion. They have been in place at least as long as Ms Stanford has been race-riding.

14. We have no hesitation in accepting that Ms Stanford, who is still only nineteen, is a very promising young jockey who rides well. We are entirely sensitive to the fact that any such jockey will want to be seen to be trying hard and doing his or her very best: no-one wants to be thought a weak or ineffective rider.

15. Nevertheless, it is evident that her use of the whip is a fault. Quite apart from the Windsor race which triggered this enquiry, she has been before the Stewards on four previous occasions in the last six months. On two of those previous occasions (Kempton Park on 22 March 2017 and Yarmouth on 24 May 2017) she has been suspended for four days, as she would have been in respect of the Windsor race had that stood alone. In addition, those five appearances have happened in a period of four months during which she has had fifty seven rides – that is, she has been guilty of a whip offence in almost one in eleven rides.

16. We recognise that her age and relative inexperience is some mitigation and that she has promptly and honestly acknowledged her fault. We also accept that she has the benefit of sound advice from her jockey-coaches, Michael Tebbutt and (on a less formal basis) John Reid. We are sure they will help her to keep her use of the whip within the Rules in future.

17. Paragraph 11 on page 24 of the Guide suggests a range of 14-42 days suspension for a case such as this with an ‘entry point’ of 21 days. We consider that the aggravating features of the case outlined above take this case a little higher than the entry point and we impose a suspension of 24 days of which one third will be deferred. Ms Stanford will therefore be suspended for 16 days from Friday 21 July 2017 to Saturday 5 August 2017 inclusive with 8 days deferred for 42 days until 16 September 2017.


The Panel was: William Norris (Chair), Jodie Mogford and Steve Winfield.
 
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