Ten-day bans for jockeys in void race.
Byline: Ben Hutton
EIGHT-TIME champion jockey Peter Scudamore was yesterday scathing about the ten-day bans handed to three jockeys after they ignored a stop-race flag at Perth that resulted in the race being declared void.
Sean Quinlan, Grand Nationalwinning jockey Derek Fox and Stephen Mulqueen failed to stop riding on the run to the line, close to where Johnny Go was being treated behind screens. Sadly, he suffered a fatal injury.
Three yellow flags were deployed, at the third-last fence, on the outside of the course by the last fence, and one after the final fence as runners make their way on to the hurdle course to cross the finish line, in so doing avoiding the water jump on the other half of the track that they negotiated on the first two circuits.
The jockeys seemingly saw only the final flag, as Mulqueen said: "The first flag I saw was the one after the last fence. When we watched it back on television there was a flag at the first in the straight [three out], but the flag person wasn't on the track and we didn't see it."
Mulqueen was riding for William Young but is under Scudamore's guidance at Lucinda Russell's yard, while Fox was riding the Russell-trained Miss Joeking.
Scudamore said: "Whatever the decision for the welfare of horses, jockeys, people on the course, I accept that, but what I can't accept is how you can punish the jockeys.
"Officials knew the race was void turning into the straight, but the only flag the jockeys saw was halfway up the run-in after the final fence."
Quinlan was first home on well-backed 7-4 favourite Red Giant, trained by Jennie Candlish.
Asked if it was the right decision to void the race, Quinlan replied: "No, I don't think it was because we had loads of room to go where we went.
"There was nothing in front of the third-last, there was nothing in front of the second-last, and there was nothing in front of the last, and we had plenty of room to go through to the finish line."
It was the responsibility of clerk of the course Harriet Graham to order the stop-race flags, and she said: "I stopped the race for the safety of the personnel by the screens."
Here Comes Love was in third on the run to the line but spooked and unseated Mulqueen, although suggestions he did so because of the screens up around Johnny Go - which would have been indicative of there not being sufficient room to finish the race - were disputed by his jockey.
Mulqueen said: "When they're waving the flag seven strides from the fence you can't exactly stop safely, and the flagman came out from the hurdle track and waved the flag in front of my horse, and he put his head up and spooked from it."
After a lengthy stewards' inquiry, stipendiary steward Adrian Sharpe reported: "The inquiry involved whether the first three jockeys, two of whom crossed the line, had seen the flag, and whether they ignored it.
"We decided the jockeys were in breach of ignoring the stop-race procedures - particularly the flags on the run-in - and they were each suspended for ten days."