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ISPCA Statement regarding jockey Davy Russell striking a horse at Tramore races on August 18th 2017

The ISPCA is appalled by the incident which took place on August 18th 2017 at Tramore racecourse in which jockey Davy Russell was filmed striking his mount Kings Dolly on the head.

The ISPCA believes that this behaviour is completely unacceptable and that the caution imposed by the Irish Turf Club following an investigation is unduly lenient.

We are disappointed that the jockey was sanctioned not for hitting the horse but for damaging the reputation of horseracing, under rule 272. The same jockey was banned for 14 days last year for being rude to a steward. It is alarming that the Irish Turf Club treated that breach of its rules more seriously than hitting a horse. The Irish Turf Club had an opportunity to show that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated but it failed to take that opportunity. We call on Irish Turf Club to review the sanction imposed and to consider banning the jockey from racing for a period of time to send out a message to other jockeys that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated within the horse racing industry and that the welfare of horses must be absolutely paramount.

Following the incident on 18th August, the ISPCA has received a number of enquiries from members of the public in Ireland and further afield asking the ISPCA to investigate the incident and to consider prosecuting the jockey for animal welfare offences. Unfortunately, the ISPCA has no legal authority to do so.

Whilst ISPCA Inspectors are authorised officers under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, their statutory powers do not extend to horse racing events organised by Horse Racing Ireland or Horse Sport Ireland or to premises of horse trainers licensed under the Irish Turf Club. Therefore the ISPCA cannot investigate this incident. We will however, be raising our concerns with the Irish Turf Club and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). 

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