Fahey v Jockey Club

Reference: 05/03/2004

Court: The Jockey Club Appeal Board

Judge: Richard Hartley QC (Chairman)

Date of judgment: 5 Mar 2004

Summary: Sports Law- Tribunal- Appeal- Human Rights- Breach of the Rules of Racing - rider in breach of Rule 157 - intentionally not asking the horse for sufficient effort - trainer's liability under Rule 150(ii) - fairness of hearing - Article 6 ECHR.


Instructing Solicitors: Charles Russell


Appeal by the trainer of the filly, Market Avenue, against the decision of the Jockey Club’s Disciplinary Panel on 15th December whereby it found that: (i) in respect of his riding of Market Avenue in the Whitby Handicap at Redcar on 28th October 2003, Dale Swift was in breach of Rule 157, in that he had intentionally not asked the filly for sufficient effort;
(ii) the Panel was not satisfied that Swift’s ride was a consequence of a failure on his part to comply with the instructions given to him by Fahey because it considered it unlikely that a rider of Swift’s experience, riding for his employer, would have ridden in that way if to do so was contrary to instructions he had been given. Consequently it found Fahey was in breach of Rule 155(ii). (iii) the Panel imposed a fine of £1600 upon Fahey; and (iv) the Panel suspended Market Avenue from running for 40 days.


Mr Fahey appealed mainly on the grounds that there was insufficient material on the basis of which a reasonable Panel could have made the decision in question. Mr Fahey also argued that the way the Jockey Club’s case had been put at the Disciplinary hearing was prejudicial and unfair and did not comply with the principles of natural justice and of a fair hearing as enshrined in Article 6 of the ECHR. In particular, he submitted that he had not been provided with sufficient information regarding the Jockey Club’s case against him, prior to the hearing and that during the hearing, no positive case was put to him by the Jockey Club as to what his instructions to the jockey, Mr Dale Swift, had been.


The Appeal Board reviewed video recordings of the race, heard new evidence from Miss C Livingston of the Jockey Club and Mr Fahey, considered submissions made on behalf of Fahey by his legal representative and considered the submissions made on the Jockey Club’s behalf by their legal representative. Having done so, the Board concluded that the grounds of the appeal relied upon by Fahey as to liability and penalty should be rejected. It therefore dismissed the appeal and confirmed:-
(a) the fine of £1,600 upon Fahey;
(b) the suspension of Market Avenue to run from Saturday 6th March to Wednesday 14th April inclusive;
The Board ordered that the deposit money lodged by Fahey should be returned and made no order as to costs.


This case highlighted the problems that tribunals such as the Jockey Club face in terms of effectively monitoring and safeguarding the integrity of the sport and at the same time ensuring that their procedures and the conduct of disciplinary hearings which might lead to a finding which impacts on a person’s livelihood are fair and compliant with the principles enshrined in Article 6 of the ECHR. In this case, the main issue was whether on the basis of the video evidence and the jockey’s explanation of the ride, a reasonable Panel could have come to the conclusion that it did. It is important to remember that in appeals of this kind, the Board does not re-hear the case before the Panel, and will be slow to reverse the decision of a Panel who has had the benefit of hearing live evidence from the key people involved (in this case, the jockey).