Paul Townend says he heard ‘a shout’ on the way to last fence
IHRB will examine level of detail released in future stewards’ inquiry reports
Al Bourm Photo ridden by jockey Paul Townend (right) collides with Finian’s Oscar ridden by jockey Robbie Power (left) during day one of the Punchestown Festival. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has indicated it will examine the level of detail released in future stewards’ inquiry reports in the wake of Paul Townend’s controversial ride on day one of the Punchestown festival.
Townend got a 21-day suspension for dangerous riding after his dramatic manoeuvre aboard Al Boum Photo on the approach to the final fence of the Growise Novice Chase.
The incident resulted in the English raider Finian’s Oscar being carried out and Townend was dislodged from Al Boum Photo after the horse crashed through the wing of the fence.
Racing fans were left stunned by the incident and immediately afterwards there was something of an information vacuum as to why it had happened.
Townend didn’t comment afterwards while Al Boum Photo’s trainer Willie Mullins had left the track. The short IHRB stewards’ inquiry report merely confirmed the 21-day ban and said that Townend and Finian’s Oscar’s jockey Robbie Power gave evidence.
On Wednesday morning, Townend issued a short statement saying he heard “a shout” on the run to the final obstacle which he then thought had to be bypassed.
Townend stated: “I thought I heard that the last fence was being bypassed. It was a split second reaction. I wish to apologise to connections and to punters.”
On Wednesday morning the IHRB, which had come under fire for not immediately releasing more information, also issued an update on the stewards’ inquiry which provided much more detail.
It included evidence from Townend where he said he “heard roaring on his left which caught his attention. He thought he had to bypass the fence but didn’t know which side to bypass on”.
“He panicked and commenced his move to bypass the fence on the right side but then realised there was nothing on the fence to indicate a bypass was needed and tried to correct his actions but it was too late.”
Townend was apparently very upset by the incident and the IHRB chief executive Denis Egan said on Wednesday : “The stewards, having considered the evidence and all aspects of the inquiry, including the wellbeing of the rider concerned, decided not to publish the evidence given until this morning.”
Egan stressed that full details of evidence given at enquiries is not always published. But he also said: “I do accept in yesterday’s case it would have been better if more information had been placed in the public domain.
“The level of detail issued in stewards’ inquiry reports is something we will look at.”