Turf Club expects rise in inquiries after ‘non-trier’ rules take effect
First meeting under new running and riding rules will take place at Dundalk on Friday
Turf Club’s chief executive Denis Egan, said there could be an increase in t inquiries after the new running and riding rules come into force. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The Turf Club anticipates there may be an increase in inquiries once extensive changes to the running and riding rules come into force at Dundalk on Friday.
Last week, racing’s regulatory body published an extensive overhaul of its controversial Rule 212 which relates to “non-triers”.
It has been labelled the most extensive set of running and riding regulations in any major racing jurisdiction in the world with increased penalties and an onus on jockeys to be seen to try to achieve the best position they can in a race.
A central platform for the new rules is that there is “an overall obligation on all persons who may have involvement with the running and riding of a horse to ensure the horse concerned runs on its merits and is also seen, to a reasonable and informed member of the racing public, to have run on its merits”.
The first meeting run under the new regulations will be on the all-weather at Dundalk on Friday. The weekend action will take place at Navan on Saturday and at Leopardstown on Sunday where the feature event is the €100,000 Coral.ie Handicap Hurdle.
Asked if the introduction of the new rules could mean an initial jump in inquires, the Turf Club’s chief executive, Denis Egan, said: “There could be, in so far as the key thing is that horses have to be seen to try and achieve their best position from the point of view of a reasonable and informed member of the racing public. So there may be an increase in inquiries as there is more scope than before.”
As racing professionals get used to the new rules, so will those charged with implementing them and seminars have been run by the Turf Club to familiarise stewards with the new Rule 212.
“There have been seminars inside [Turf Club HQ] with chairmen and deputy chairmen [of stewards panels] and the stipes have been involved as well,” Egan confirmed.
Stipendiary stewards are professional officials whose role includes advising amateur stewards panels.
“They will still look at races the same way. Stewards are not going to look at a race differently,” Egan added. “If something doesn’t look right they will examine it in context and decide what part of the rule may have been breached.”
The Irish Jockeys’ Association gave a cautious welcome to the new running and riding rules last week but its spokesman, Andrew Coonan, said they would prefer all Rule 212 “non-trier” inquiries to be automatically referred given how complex such cases can be and the time-pressure on race-day stewards.
Egan ruled that out but stressed: “Serious cases can still be referred if stewards on the day feel it is necessary.”
In other news, Navan’s Saturday fixture could see the return to action of a pair of JP McManus-owned stars, Jezki and Carlingford Lough.
The eight-time Grade One winner, Jezki, hasn’t run since April 2015 and is on course to make his comeback in a conditions hurdle while Carlingford Lough may also start ahead of his bid for a hat-trick of wins in next month’s Stan James Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
That race has also emerged as a target for another McManus-owned runner, Minella Rocco. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill has confirmed last season’s Cheltenham festival winner will line up at Leopardstown.
“The plan at the moment is to go for the Irish Gold Cup in the middle of February. We will then make a plan after that regarding Cheltenham and Aintree,” O’Neill reported. “He could be a National horse and that is the way I’d be going.”