Tuesday 20 February 2018

Russell 'punch' saga ends with four-day suspension

Russell was yesterday banned for four days Pic: Sportsfile
Russell was yesterday banned for four days Pic: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

He cut a rather frustrated figure yesterday but Davy Russell must now accept his punishment and move on after receiving a four-day ban from the Turf Club.

Thus ends a rather lamentable saga which began when the Youghal rider was caught striking the mare, Kings Dolly, before the start of a hurdle race at Tramore last month.

Russell was yesterday banned for four days following an appeals body hearing into the incident. Following an investigation, Russell was originally given a caution with no further punishment from the referrals committee, though this was widely criticised.

After an internal review, the Turf Club said the registrar of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee had asked the appeals body to look at the findings of the referrals committee "on the grounds that it was unduly lenient".

Russell, twice champion rider in Ireland and winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014 on Lord Windermere, had argued he wanted the horse to concentrate and that it was inappropriate to use the whip under the circumstances.

Chairman of the appeals body, Joseph Finnegan, a retired Supreme Court judge, said: "It is important not to understate the seriousness of this offence.

"We feel that a five-day suspension is appropriate, but we are also aware of the strain and pressure that this has put on Davy and his family and the delay in finalising the matter, so therefore the suspension will be reduced to four days.

"There are two previous cases, in 2012 and 2014, which are somewhat similar in that they involved a blow to a horse and there was a five-day suspension given out in each case.

"We are satisfied that nothing of this nature will happen in future with regard to Davy."

Significantly for Russell, he will be free to ride at the Listowel Festival, which commences on Sunday. His suspension comes into play on September 19.

The rider told the hearing: "There was no anger involved in this. There was no malice. I had no anger towards the filly. It was a matter of trying to get her back under control and trying to get her to pay attention."

He added that he felt let down by the media's treatment of the case, with criticism particularly strong on social media.

Irish Independent

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