ERA chasing Cosgrave for costs

Last Updated: 28/07/14 3:46pm

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The Professional Jockeys Association has clarified concerns over the processes used by the Emirates Racing Authority in its handling of the Pat Cosgrave affair and revealed that the jockey is being pursued for legal costs.

The Professional Jockeys Association has issued its concerns over the judicial processes of the Emirates Racing Authority after its handling of the Pat Cosgrave affair.

A British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel decided not to reciprocate Cosgrave's four-month suspension, which he received for improper riding in the Group One Jebel Hatta, in Britain.

His mount, Anaerobio, came off the rail as Mike de Kock-trained stablemate Vercingetorix came through to win.

The ban was initially six months, but reduced to four on appeal by the ERA. The BHA panel's reasons for their decision not to recognise that ban were released on Monday.

The panel's reasoning centred upon whether Cosgrave's case had been applied with "the laws of natural justice".

It attempted to diffuse complaints from the Cosgrave camp over interpretation of the rules of racing in Dubai and the behaviour of ERA chairman John Zucal, and instead concentrated on the nature of the appeal hearing with reference, in particular, to whether it was a review process or a re-hearing, and whether Cosgrave should have been allowed to review old evidence, or bring in new evidence.

It felt Cosgrave "was not given a sufficient chance to present evidence to the appeal panel which could have had an effect on their conclusions".

PJA chief executive Paul Struthers responded: "We welcome the finding of the BHA's disciplinary panel that Pat Cosgrave was denied natural justice at his appeal in Dubai.

"However, our concerns about the rules and processes of the Emirates Racing Authority, or at least the current interpretation of them, goes deeper than the issue raised by the BHA disciplinary panel.

"The cause of the denial of natural justice was the discrepancy between the appeal board ruling on the day of the appeal that it was by way of review, but then concluding in their 'reasons' that they had ruled it was exceptional circumstances and was a re-hearing.

"The discrepancy between what was said on the day of the appeal hearing and the appeal panel's reasons is extraordinary, particularly given the appeal panel had the benefit of the transcript when producing their reasons.

"However, of equal concern was a further extraordinary conclusion reached in the appeal panel's reasons that Mike de Kock thought Anaerobio could have won.

"Bearing in mind the transcript of the stewards enquiry finds Mr De Kock stating that "I will give up the game if that horse could have won" and the matter was further clarified at the ERA appeal panel hearing, it is a quite staggering conclusion for them to have reached."

Struthers said the ERA are still trying to collect costs of around £35,000 from Cosgrave, and said: "We are not aware of any other jurisdiction that awards such punitive and unreasonable costs for failed, let alone successful, first-stage appeals when those appeals have merit.

"The ERA's approach to appeal panel costs goes against the principles of fairness and reasonableness, and appears to be against common UAE legal practice.

"We have therefore written to the ERA requesting that they withdraw the costs order against Mr Cosgrave.

"We believe the only way that jockeys can be assured of being subjected to a fair process, and for the ERA to repair the inadvertent damage inflicted upon it by its stewards and appeal panel, is by undertaking a thorough review of its rules and processes to ensure that they are not acting in an unfair and unreasonable manner.

"If the status quo is allowed to continue, the threat of punitive and unreasonable costs means that, in reality, there is no route of appeal whatsoever for jockeys racing under the ERA's jurisdiction."

reopens Zucal said the BHA's published reasons were "very interesting" but the ERA will not comment further until after the Eid al-Fitr holiday, a feast which marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan.He told Press Association Sport: "It is currently Eid, which is a celebration of Ramadan, over here, which means everything is closed down, so I have no authority to make a statement just yet."I've been in contact with our board members and we will be making a statement in due course."The BHA's reasons were very interesting, especially in relation to the stewards, but it would be inappropriate to comment any further."
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