Friday 21 July 2017 11:35:04 AM

Ulster Grand National Winner In Downpatrick Finally Confirmed After Appeal Hearing
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The result of the Toals Ulster Grand National at Downpatrick last month was finally confirmed following the hearing of an appeal by the owners of the original winner writes Joe Kavanagh.

Unoccupied which was demoted to second due to interference in the closing stages resulting in the Stuart Crawford trained, Hidden Horizons being promoted to the winner of the Downpatrick feature.

Rider, Philip Enright had withdrawn his appeal for a two day riding ban but the owners of Unoccupied continued with their appeal which was held last weekend.   A full transcript of the appeal hearing is detailed below.

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The Larne based Crawford brothers and owners of Hidden Horizons belatedly celebrate victory in the Toals Ulster Grand National at Downpatrick. (Photo by irishracepix)

The Larne-based Crawford brothers and owners of Hidden Horizons belatedly celebrate victory in the Toals Ulster Grand National at Downpatrick. (Photo by irishracepix)

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The Appeals Body (Division One) Patrick Reidy (in the chair), Philip Caffrey and Nicholas Lambert met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare  to consider the appeal of E.N. Hickey, joint owner of Unoccupied (GB).  

The appeal was against the decision of the Stewards at Downpatrick on 23rd March 2014 to reverse the placings of Unoccupied (GB) which finished first past the post and Hidden Horizons, which finished second, following the running of the Toals Bookmakers Ulster Grand National European Breeders Fund Handicap Steeplechase.  

The Stewards had held an enquiry into possible interference in the closing stages involving both horses and found that Unoccupied (GB) had caused interference to Hidden Horizons and had improved his placing as a result.   The grounds of appeal lodged by E.N. Hickey were that the interference did not affect the placings.  

A stewards' inquiry was held after the Toals Ulster Grand National when  Unoccupied appeared to drift across Paul Carberry riding Hidden Horizons going into the home straight.

A stewards’ inquiry was held after the Toals Ulster Grand National when Unoccupied ridden by Philip Enright appeared to drift across Paul Carberry riding Hidden Horizons going into the home straight.

Evidence was heard from Philip Enright, rider of Unoccupied (GB) and Paul Carberry, rider of Hidden Horizons.  Film of the race was also viewed.  In his evidence Philip Enright said that Unoccupied (GB) kept a straight racing line from the turn into the straight to the finishing line and that the interference was caused as a result of a kink in the running rail which resulted in Hidden Horizons running out of room and bumping into the rear of Unoccupied (GB). 

This had the effect of spinning Unoccupied (GB) sideways. After the bump he said that his horse galloped away and won easily by over a length. He said he was unaware that Paul Carberry was on his outside as he didn’t shout but he did accept that he had looked over his right shoulder twice and that he didn’t see Mr Carberry’s mount on his inside. 

He concluded by saying that there was no room for Hidden Horizons to come on his outside and that Paul Carberry realised that when it was too late and was left with no option but to cause interference. 

In his evidence Paul Carberry said that there was plenty of room on the outside of Unoccupied (GB) when he started his run but that the gap was closed the whole way up the straight to the point where the interference was caused. He said that his mount got as far as the shoulder of Unoccupied (GB) when the gap closed. 

He said that while he did not shout, Philip Enright knew he was there and pulled in on top of him. He said that Hidden Horizons would have won but for the interference caused.  

Having considered the evidence, the Appeals Body found that there was interference and that the interference was caused by the first past the post Unoccupied (GB). They further found that Unoccupied (GB) had improved his placing in relation to Hidden Horizons and in view of this the appeal was dismissed. They ordered that the result as amended by the Stewards at Downpatrick should stand.

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The Larne brothers, Stuart, Stephen, Ross and Ben who operate the successful Ulster training operation along with the winning connections of Hidden Horizons were able to finally celebrate their major victory in the historic local chase and don the Ulster Grand National winners rug on Hidden Horizons.