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Media coverage 'disgraceful', rages top jockey Russell


By Robert Jones

Top jockey Davy Russell has hit out at "disgraceful" media coverage after he was handed a four-day ban for punching a horse on the back of the head before a race.

Russell was caught on camera aiming a blow with his right hand while on board Kings Dolly, before the mares' handicap hurdle at Tramore on August 18.

On Tuesday, an appeals body review of the punishment handed out to the former champion jockey resulted in a four-day suspension after he was initially handed only a caution.

But that punishment was judged to be "unduly lenient" after a Turf Club internal review, with the appeals body asked to review the findings of the referral committee.

Throughout the case, Russell argued that he wanted the horse to concentrate and that it was inappropriate to use the whip under the circumstances, but television footage of his actions quickly went viral on social media with news outlets also reporting on the incident.

Russell, however, claimed at his hearing that coverage of the case had been "unacceptable" and "disgraceful", with his family made to suffer because of the press intrusion into their lives.

"What the press have done is unacceptable," he said. "Not just to me, but to my family as well. My family are involved as well. They were mentioned in articles along the way. It is not just me anymore. I have a wife and children.

"One of those children is 13 years of age. She knows what is going on. She's at secondary school and she has to deal with this as well. I'm a father as well as a horseman, and I'm a normal human being.

"Journalists have paid no regard to that and have kept going and going and going. In my eyes that is disgraceful. It's pretty obvious to everyone in this room that I have put that in a lenient way."

Russell also argued at his hearing that he struck the horse "with no anger involved" and so did not deserve to be punished by the Irish Turf Club.

"There was no anger involved. There was no malice," he added. "I had no anger towards the filly. It was a matter of trying to get her back under control and trying to get her to pay attention.

"I know what this looks like, I'm a normal human being. What the press have seen and what the press have brought forward is completely different.

"I want to make this as simple as possible, hence why I'm not here with legal representation."

The ban starts on September 19.

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