Saturday 24 February 2018

O’Brien appeals against Dundalk ruling

Damien McElroy

AIDAN O’BRIEN has lodged an unusual appeal against last Saturday’s decision of Dundalk stewards who refused to allow his son Joseph – chasing the apprentice jockey’s title – to put up 4lb overweight on one of his fillies.

O’Brien Jnr is locked in a highprofile battle for Flat racing’s junior crown and currently trails joint leaders Gary Carroll and Ben Curtis by four winners going into this afternoon’s meeting at Dundalk.

The jockey had high hopes of landing the Christmas Parties Maiden at the Louth venue last Saturday aboard Sing Softly – which is trained by his father Aidan – but having weighed in 4lbs over the horse’s allotted mark, the stewards would not allow him take the mount.

As a result, the daughter of Hennessy was withdrawn with the permission of the stewards as her connections preferred not to engage an alternative rider.

The officials on the day had deemed that “no very exceptional circumstances” were presented, with trainer O’Brien complaining in his appeal submission that this was “an unreasonable refusal.” It is understood the lodging of the appeal will enable Sing Softly to run in the opening race of the season’s final card at Dundalk.

O’Brien Jnr has enjoyed mixed fortunes with the Dundalk stewards this season.

Only last week, the promising rider won an appeal against a two-day whip ban imposed by them at a hearing of the Turf Club's Appeals And Referrals Committee.

The race in question saw O'Brien's mount Mr Pianist win a photo-finish. The stewards found O'Brien had used his whip with excessive frequency but that decision was overturned at the hearing in which he was represented by solicitor Andrew Coonan.

O'Brien Jnr has ridden 35 winners this season and has several fancied mounts at today’s all-weather fixture as he bids to eat into the lead held by Carroll and Curtis.

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