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    Patrick Mullins' Cheltenham Festival whip ban reduced by 50% following a successful appeal: 'I'm facing accusations without substantial proof.'
Patrick Mullins' Cheltenham Festival whip ban reduced by 50% following a successful appeal: 'I'm facing accusations without substantial proof.'
Patrick Mullins. Photo by Healy Racing. Source: irishracing.com

Patrick Mullins' Cheltenham Festival whip ban reduced by 50% following a successful appeal: 'I'm facing accusations without substantial proof.'

Patrick Mullins has successfully appealed against a portion of his eight-day whip ban for his ride on Embassy Gardens in the National Hunt Challenge Cup. His suspension has been reduced by half, allowing him to participate in the Easter festival at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

Mullins acknowledged that he used his whip without allowing his horse time to respond, but he contested the claim that he used the whip in the wrong location after the second-last fence.

During a Zoom call with an independent disciplinary hearing, the prominent amateur rider demonstrated the various whip actions and argued that the available footage did not provide sufficient and definitive evidence to prove that he used the whip in the wrong place.

According to the rules of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Mullins has rescheduled one of his suspended days to 15th April, and as a result, he will be able to ride on all three days of Fairyhouse's major weekend event. However, he will still be sidelined on Tuesday, Thursday, and the following Sunday.

Mullins, who has been riding for 18 years and was participating in his first whip appeal hearing, stated: "Our whips bend in mid-air and straighten on contact. The shape of my whip in the footage shows it's in mid-air, and when it straightens, it will hit the right place."

He further argued that the camera angle used by the stewards created an optical illusion, as it was positioned before the second-last fence and made things closer to the camera appear higher on the screen. Mullins believed that a parallel view would show that his whip was positioned a few inches further back.

Mullins asserted that the BHA had failed to present definitive or conclusive evidence, and he felt unjustly accused without concrete proof. Charlotte Davison, representing the BHA, countered Mullins' argument by stating that the footage did not demonstrate the whip being used in the correct place after the second-last fence.

In delivering the verdict, chair Tim Grey stated: "The panel's conclusion is that we cannot establish with greater likelihood that the whip landed in the incorrect place on the horse. Regarding the appeal, the BHA has not met the required standard or burden of proof. Therefore, Mr. Mullins' appeal regarding the use of the whip in the wrong place is allowed, and the four-day penalty associated with that aspect of the complaint no longer applies. However, the four-day penalty for failing to give the horse time to respond remains in effect."

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