Thursday 8 December 2016

Walsh cleared of wrongdoing as Turf Club charge is refuted

Published 08/05/2015 | 02:30

Trainer Ted Walsh has been cleared of wrongdoing
Trainer Ted Walsh has been cleared of wrongdoing

Ted Walsh has been cleared of wrongdoing after the Turf Club's charge that he removed Foxrock's front shoes when he learned that the horse was subject to a running and riding inquiry at Punchestown in December was refuted.

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The case was re-opened over the emergence of video evidence showing Foxrock wearing both front shoes after the race. Walsh was represented at last month's hearing by the former Justice Minister Michael McDowell, and witnesses called on his behalf included Aidan O'Brien and Willie Mullins.

In its conclusion, the Referrals Committee decided that the seven or eight minutes between the announcement of the inquiry and the Turf Club's senior veterinary officer Terry Smith's inspection of the horse was insufficient for deliberate removal of the shoes.

Smith proposed that a horse's shoe could be removed in approximately 30 seconds, while Walsh ventured that it would take "a number of minutes".

"Although it was clearly possible that the Turf Club case could be correct," the document read, "the Committee was not satisfied that the evidence in support of a guilty inference carried the degree of cogency necessary to find that it was more probable than the alternative innocent scenario."

The alternative scenario proposed by Walsh was that Foxrock pulled the shoes off himself while being hosed down. Walsh's employees Conor Bruen and Brendan Brady, who "accompanied the horse at all times", did not notice the horse pulling off his shoes. The report painted a picture of both being unhelpful, reinforcing the regulator's view that "something was amiss".

The Committee accepted the assertion of the Turf Club's security officer William Buckley that he witnessed Walsh run from the stable yard to the horsebox parking area after being informed that Smith wished to inspect Foxrock. Walsh did not recall this, nor "his reason for leaving the stable area".

Smith said he had never encountered a horse losing shoes like this during his "lengthy career," an assertion corroborated by veterinary surgeons Ned Gowing and Jimmy Kelly, farrier Simon Curtis and a BHA vet.

Mullins said it might happen once per 100 horses; O'Brien said such incidents occurred to his horses "umpteen times". The Committee "totally rejected O'Brien's description of Mr Smith's evidence as 'nonsense', and therefore approached the balance of his evidence with circumspection."

Dr Des Leadon, giving evidence on Walsh's behalf, recalled an "instance of a horse losing two shoes in a race in Switzerland". The report observed that Walsh's evidence was "coloured by a clearly expressed and long-standing antipathy to the Turf Club and its officials" - in particular its head of security Chris Gordon. It rejected an allegation that Gordon had intimidated him.

In relation to the charge, the report concluded that Walsh "had a relatively limited window of opportunity to determine on this course of action, obtain the necessary implements and remove the two shoes from the horse".

It added that if, as Foxrock's jockey Adrian Heskin suggested on the day of the race, there was an issue with the welfare of the horse, he should have pulled him up; if not, he should have ridden to achieve the best possible placing. Consequently, Heskin's original one-day ban will now be reviewed.

The case against Walsh, who had intimated on the day that he felt Heskin could have been more forceful prior to establishing that Foxrock had lost two front shoes, is closed.

Irish Independent

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