Jockey initially escaped punishment for the act but the Turf Club came under increasing pressure to sanction the jockey for his actions
DAVY RUSSELL has been handed a four-day racing ban after punching a horse in the head.
The jockey caused outrage last month when a video appeared of him hitting his mount Kings Dolly after it buckled when sizing up the hurdle before a race.
The footage led to an initial investigation from the Turf Club but Russell was handed just a caution by the referrals committee.
But following a public outcry, Turf Club reopened the case and a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday resulted in handing Russell the ban.
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Race days stewards were not aware of the matter at the time and the video only came to light when it was shared thousands of time on social media.
Kings Dolly is shown approaching the hurdle at speed before the mare came to a halt.
Russell then takes a swing at the horse and catches her between the ears.
After being notified that an investigation was underway, Russell claimed that he “didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.”
Russell, twice champion jockey in Ireland and winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014 on Lord Windermere, had argued he wanted the horse to concentrate and that it was inappropriate to use the whip under the circumstances.
He told the Irish Daily Star: “Unfortunately, the Turf Club are looking at what happened at Tramore so I cannot really go into the specifics.
“The situation with Kings Dolly was an ordinary enough situation and I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.
“I’m not sure everyone on social media quite understands how a thoroughbred racehorse handles at race time, but I am happy to speak to the Turf Club about this.
“I ride every horse to win, no matter what, and would never do anything to hamper its chances.”
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The RSPCA later branded the punching of the horse as “totally unacceptable.”
David Muir, equine consultant for the RSPCA, hopes lessons will be learned from the affair and the timescales involved in a reaching a final verdict.
He said: “We’ve all got to be pragmatic about this, Davy Russell has gone through the system for the past two weeks, which has let racing down. If four days was the punishment on the day, there would have been no furore.
“However, because of what happened originally he’s gone through two weeks of hearings and what have you, where the end result is four days. I’ve no complaints over the punishment, but there needs to be a clear line of what is acceptable.
“Punching horses in the head is obviously not and the penalty needs to be clear. If jockeys do that then they need to be severely punished, which is down to the Turf Club and the British Horseracing Authority.
“Hounding a jockey is not right, which is what has happened here, so the Turf Club, and BHA, need to learn from this.”