Paul Townend revealed the reason for his dramatic final-fence manoeuvre, that caused mayhem in the Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown, was that he thought he had to bypass the obstacle.
Townend, who was hit with a 21-day ban, took out Finian’s Oscar as he tried to steer his mount Al Boum Photo across the track.
The drama began when Monalee took a crashing fall two fences from home, badly hampering Invitation Only, who unshipped David Mullins.
That incident left Al Boum Photo in command before Townend’s unexpected move saw him and Finian’s Oscar, who was ridden by Robbie Power, go off chase course at the approach to the final fence.
The Storyteller was left in front in the hands of Davy Russell and galloped on to lead home a one-two-three for Gordon Elliott.
Townend was served with the hefty suspension for dangerous riding and was also ordered to forfeit his riding fee.
In his evidence to the stewards, Townend said he “was riding with his head down between the last two fences and heard roaring on his left which caught his attention”.
A statement issued by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board added: “He (Townend) thought he had to bypass the fence but didn’t know which side to bypass on.
“He panicked and commenced his move to bypass the fence on the right side but then realised there was nothing on the fence to indicate a bypass was needed and tried to correct his actions but it was too late.
“He accepted in hindsight that there were no bypass procedures in place.
“He said he made a genuine mistake and apologised for what occurred.”
Power told the inquiry that “he was coming to win his race before the last and was carried out”.
The statement added: “He (Power) described the incident as ‘unfortunate’ and said he had no idea why it happened.
“He said he was not aware of any reason which would indicate that the fence was being bypassed.”