Sandown jockeys have riding bans overturned on appeal

Suspensions had centred on failure to adhere to yellow ‘stop-race’ flag.

  • Tuesday 17 December
  • News
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All seven jockeys banned for 10 days at Sandown on December 7 have had their suspensions quashed on appeal.

The bans followed the Betfair London National, which was voided on safety grounds, with the Venetia Williams-trained Houblon Des Obeaux being attended to after suffering what was later reported to be a fatal heart attack after jumping the Pond fence on the first circuit.

Approaching the same obstacle for a second time, a member of the ground staff displayed a yellow flag, which is shown to indicate to riders that there is a serious incident ahead and that jockeys must stop riding and the race declared void.

Seven riders instead bypassed the fence and stricken horse, continuing to the finish with the race ‘won’ by Philip Donovan aboard Doing Fine for Neil Mulholland.

As well as Donovan, Jamie Moore, Daryl Jacob, Adam Wedge, Stan Sheppard, Harry Skelton and James Davies were handed suspensions, but all are now free to ride over the busy Christmas period, following the hearing before an independent disciplinary panel at British Horseracing Authority headquarters in London.

Jacob is, however, currently injured and not expected to be back until the new year.

All seven jockeys were in attendance, together with Paul Struthers and Dale Gibson of the Professional Jockeys Association and solicitor Rory Mac Neice.

Moore said: “We are delighted with the result, we are very appreciative of how it has panned out.

“I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t sure what would happen, as it was unusual circumstances, so the most optimistic I was about it getting overturned was 50-50.

“I am delighted with the result, but at the same time we know on the day the stewards had a job to do.

“I definitely think things can be learned from this. We are all pretty experienced jockeys and the way it worked out it wasn’t obvious what we had to do, but now it is back to work as normal.”

He added: “Rory Mac Neice, Dale Gibson and Paul Struthers have done a great job and have been a big help to all the boys.

“All the boys were there and everyone of them did well and it has ended up working out well.

“We just need get back to normal now and put this behind us and move on.”

A statement from the BHA read: “The stop-race procedures are essential to protect the safety of horses and jockeys, and the medical or veterinary staff who may be treating them on the racecourse.

“The position of the stewards at Sandown was that the existing stop-race procedures were carried out adequately, and that most of the riders heard the whistle and either saw – or should have seen – the stop-race flag, which was deployed directly in the racing line ahead of the Pond fence.

“However, we operate a regulatory system which allows for appeals of raceday decisions. We must await the panel’s full written reasons before commenting further on the specifics of this case.”

It added: “The current stop-race policies were agreed in 2008 between the BHA, PJA and racecourses. In 2017 the PJA raised a query regarding the policies, including the systems that are used for deploying flag operatives and whether the flags should remain as bright yellow.

“The cross-industry racecourse committee, which is the appropriate body, considered the issue and came to the decision that there should be no changes to the current system at this time.

“There have been three instances where the stop-race procedures were successfully deployed since this date, prior to Sandown. The matter has not been raised further by the PJA in this period.

“However, we have informed the PJA that, if they wish, we would be happy to revisit this discussion, alongside the racecourses.”

Sandown jockeys have riding bans overturned on appeal
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