The controversy over Davy Russell’s punch to his mount Kings Dolly before a race at Tramore nearly a fortnight ago continued on Tuesday when David Muir, the RSPCA’s experienced equine consultant, added his voice to widespread criticism of the Irish Turf Club for its failure either to fine or to suspend Russell over the incident.
Russell left a disciplinary hearing on Saturday with nothing more than a caution over the punch, which occurred when Kings Dolly ran freely towards a “show” hurdle and then stopped abruptly, momentarily upsetting Russell’s balance in the saddle. Video footage of the incident has circulated widely on social media, attracting tens of thousands of “views” on Twitter alone. Rather than putting the controversy to bed, the Turf Club’s decision to apply no meaningful sanction to Russell seems to have kept the issue alive. The disciplinary panel had no obvious precedent to draw on when setting a penalty but two cases of horses being struck by riders in Britain in 2012 and 2014, involving Kieren Fallon and Sean Levy, attracted five-day bans and Muir believes a similar case in Britain today would probably incur a stiffer penalty again.
“I was thinking how much things have changed,” Muir, a staunch advocate for horse welfare on racing issues including the Grand National and misuse of the whip, said on Tuesday. “Perception as well as someone’s action is important now and this would make a lot of people unhappy... READ MORE