Tony Martin wins appeal but is still fined and Pyromaniac is still banned

Referrals Committee bite the trainer over Pyromaniac's teeth

Trainer Tony Martin has won his appeal but still faces a fine. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Trainer Tony Martin has won his appeal but still faces a fine. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Tony Martin secured something of a pyrrhic victory at a Turf Club Referrals Committee hearing which saw him successfully appeal a €2,000 fine and a 42 day ban imposed on Pyromaniac at Killarney last week under one section of the ‘non-trier’ rules, only to be fined, and the horse remain suspended, under another section.

 At the end of a lengthy hearing at Leopardstown on Thursday Martin was instead fined €1,000, and Pyromaniac remains suspended for 42 days, ruling him out of next week’s Galway festival, after the Referrals Committee decided Pyromaniac shouldn’t have been allowed run at Killarney due to problems with his teeth that only showed up after his controversial run last week.

Part of Martin’s successful defence against using the racecourse as a training ground was that issues with the horse’s teeth contributed to his performance at Killarney where both the trainer and jockey Patrick McGuigan were penalised under racing’s Rule 212 (a111) which deals with using the racecourse as a training ground.

As at the original stewards enquiry, Martin criticised the ride amateur jockey Patrick McGuigan gave Pyromaniac and he was critical of McGuigan again at the appeal. However he also said a problem had been uncovered with the horse’s teeth the day after the race, a problem he argued contributed to Pyromaniac’s performance at Killarney.

The Turf Club vet, Terry Smith, told the appeal he examined the horse in Martin’s yard three days after the race and noted “sharp points” on Pyromaniac’s teeth and evidence of “ulceration on the lining of the cheeks.” Asked if these symptoms could have manifested themselves in the race in terms of the horse hanging, or cocking his head, he said: “I have to say it is possible.”

The three-man Referrals Committee allowed the appeals under Rule 212(a111) but at the end of a hearing lasting almost three hours, the three-man Referrals Committee concluded that while Martin wasn’t negligent with the horse’s dental care, and the matter was simply “unfortunate,” they still imposed a new fine of €1,000 and maintained a 42 day ban on Pyromaniac under Rule 212(a11.)

That rule clause relates to running horses on the track “where they are in a condition which could preclude their chances of winning.”

There appeared to be some bemusement afterwards among Martin’s legal team and while reluctant to expand on any next step that might be taken, barrister, Eugene Gleason, said he was “considering the position in regard to another remedy.”

Martin didn’t wish to comment and Mrs Patricia Regan, the mother of Maurice Regan, in whose Newton Anner Stud colours Pyromaniac runs in, said: “It’s not the time or the place to decide what we’re doing.” The Committee, chaired by the former Senior Steward, Nick Wachman, said Martin wasn’t liable for costs and did not have to pay appeal deposits.

Giving evidence Martin outlined how in the run up to last week’s race, he hadn’t had a runner for over a month due to a virus problem in the yard and while as a result he hadn’t confidence in Pyromaniac’s chance he did feel the horse was healthy and well, would be in the first three and, with luck, would win.

He said he was “very disappointed and upset” with McGuigan’s ride but during the race he noticed the horse hanging from before the final turn and up the straight and suspected there may have been a problem.

Asked by the Turf Club barrister, Louis Weston, why he had not mentioned this at the original stewards enquiry, Martin said he had been under stress on the day as his son was in hospital in Galway for a leg operation and he was in phone contact with his wife about that situation.

Pressed by Weston as to his use of the phrase “testing the waters” which he used at the enquiry in Killarney about Pyromaniac’s performance, Martin insisted he was speaking in relation to how it was his first runner for some time and that if Pyromaniac hadn’t run well he would have had to close up his stables. Martin’s barrister stressed there was “nothing sinister” about the phrase.

Evidence was heard from equine dentist Mark Kane who said Pyromaniac’s teeth were “very sharp on the right molar arcade” when he examined him last week. He also said that could cause a horse to be sensitive in relation to the bit.

The Turf Club vet, Joan Taylor, who was on duty in Killarney, was asked if she had checked the horse’s mouth during a post-race examination but she said she would not have been able to carry out an examination to the part of the mouth that her colleague Terry Smith was able to look at in more detail some days later.

Mrs Patricia Regan also gave evidence and said that when Martin was legging McGuigan onto Pyromaniac in the parade ring before the race, she heard the trainer tell the jockey: “Do your best and win if you can.”

McGuigan didn’t appeal his seven day suspension. Pyromaniac had been a 10-1 chance in ante-post betting for next week’s Galway Hurdle.

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