Trainer Ted Walsh has been cleared of any wrongdoing and will face no penalty over the Foxrock case, the Turf Club has announced.
Walsh and jockey Adrian Heskin attracted the attention of the stewards when the horse finished third at Punchestown on December 7.
Officials on the day accepted explanations that the seven-year-old had finished slightly lame and lost both front shoes during the course of the race, although they banned Heskin for not reporting the issues in the first instance.
However, footage emerged that was not available on the day, prompting the inquiry to be reopened.
The new video evidence appeared to show Foxrock returning to the parade ring after the race with his front shoes visible. Evidence was heard from various expert witnesses, including trainers Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins. Leading vets, farriers, stable security officers and stewards also gave evidence at the lengthy referral hearing on April 18.
Having taken on board all the relevant facts, the Turf Club referrals committee could not “reach any firm conclusion as to the security with which the front shoes were attached to Foxrock from the post-race footage, save to (say) that they were not obviously or apparently loose”.
A Turf Club statement added that that the committee “was satisfied on the evidence of Mr Walsh and on the footage of the race that Foxrock showed no signs of being lame as he passed the post at the end of the race, or at any time thereafter”.
Although Walsh was cleared, the referrals committee said it was “probable” Foxrock could have finished second in the place and found Heskin in breach of failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures to achieve the “best possible placing”.
The jockey was, however, not found in breach of any other rule.
The statement continued: “Penalty will be considered at a separate and subsequent hearing, which will take into account the penalty imposed in relation to the original finding of the stewards. The committee took no further action against the trainer or horse, having regard to the dissatisfaction expressed by Mr Walsh in evidence in relation to Mr Heskin’s riding in the latter part of the race, which could no longer be justified by reference to the absence of two front shoes, or any other valid excuse.”
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