Greater global harmonisation of interference rules unlikely in near future

Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh points to a fundamental difference of philosophy between different jurisdictions

Hopes for greater global harmonisation of racing's interference rules are unlikely to be realised anytime soon according to Horse Racing Ireland's chief executive Brian Kavanagh.

The issue of different regulatory rules in different countries was highlighted again at the weekend when Secret Gesture was disqualified from first in the Grade One Beverly D Stakes after causing minimal interference that wouldn’t have resulted in demotion in either Ireland or Britain.

Secret Gesture’s connections haven’t ruled out appealing the decision by the Arlington stewards and subsequently there have been widespread calls for greater uniformity in interference rules worldwide.

However, Kavanagh, who serves as one of the vice-chairmen of the International Federation or Horseracing Authorities, doesn't believe that is on the cards, despite the IFHA's stated ambition to "realise greater uniformity in the race-day rules of IFHA members."


Kavanagh said: “There is a fundamental difference of philosophy between different jurisdictions on interference rules, and you don’t even have to go as far as the United States to find it.

“There are fundamental differences for instance between the rules in Ireland and Britain compared to France. It goes back to a different culture. Here the view is that the best horse should win the race and that punishment is against the jockey rather than punishing the owner of the horse for an error on the jockeys’ part.

“In France, possibly because of the strong link in the funding structure to betting, it is much more black and white: if interference takes place, the horse must be demoted. There have been long discussions about greater harmonisation but unless there is a complete change in one of these philosophies, I don’t see it happening.”

The HRI boss pointed to similarities in Hong Kong and Australia with the rules applied in Ireland and Britain while North American regulations are more allied to the French model.

“People get set in their ways, and so do jurisdictions. But if we haven’t even been able to harmonise the rules within Europe, it’s hard to see how they can be harmonised worldwide,” Kavanagh said.

“Watching the race on Saturday night, it was noticeable how American commentary was saying it was certain to be changed while people from a British and Irish perspective couldn’t understand how it could be changed at all.

“But the American philosophy with interference is the same as the French. There remain fundamental differences in terms of how interference rules are interpreted and it has always been accepted that if you race abroad, you race under their rules,” he added.

Secret Gesture's jockey Jamie Spencer will be on board The Grey Gatsby in Wednesday's Juddmonte International but the scene is set for a mouth-watering clash between the classic winning three year stars, Golden Horn and Gleneagles, at York.

The latter’s stable companion Cougar Mountain is also among a final field of eight and Joseph O’Brien is declared to manage 8.12 on Gleneagles, the same weight he made to win on Australia in 2014

Sligo’s evening fixture begins with a juvenile maiden that could see Fair Game secure a valuable winning bracket now she encounters seven furlongs and ground with an ease in it.

Edward O’Grady’s runner’s two starts to date have been on a fast surface but being by Lawman out of a Sadlers Wells mare, a longer trip and an easy surface should help.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column