After a U-turn by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Thursday 24 March, amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen and Nina Carberry will be allowed to ride in next month’s Grand National meeting (9 April).
The BHA disciplinary panel initially upheld the seven-day ban controversially handed out to Sam for his riding of Long Run in a hunter chase at Carlisle on 20 March.
Sam had eased up on the gelding – who has since been retired – after the final fence, losing third place close to home and finishing fifth.
The jockey’s defenders said he was acting in the best interests of the former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, who had been off the racecourse for two years.
But the panel, which had watched footage of the race and heard evidence from Sam, ruled Long Run “could have finished third but for the fact that Mr Waley-Cohen stopped riding for 12 strides on the run in.”
Sam said he was “saddened by the BHA’s decision”, which would have seen him prevented from riding on 3-5 April inclusive, 7 April, 9 April and 11-12 April inclusive.
However a statement released later by the BHA said: “Owing to ambiguous wording of the rule, suspensions imposed on Sam Waley-Cohen and Nina Carberry will no longer apply on Grand National day.”
“This decision follows a representation to this effect being made by Sam Waley-Cohen today.”
Sam shared his relief at the news on twitter.
In total, Sam — who rode Long Run to Cheltenham Gold Cup victory and dual King George VI wins — has notched up six victories over the National fences, including the Becher Chase, the Topham and the Fox Hunters.
Long Run had initially been aimed at this year’s Cheltenham Foxhunter, but a setback in January meant hopes were diverted towards the Grand National.
The Carlisle race was considered a trial run for Aintree, but the 11-year-old gelding’s performance led to his connections calling time on his illustrious career.
Meanwhile Nina Carberry also benefited from the decision and now has the chance to ride at Aintree. The top lady jockey had fallen foul of whip rules during the Foxhunter at Cheltenham (18 March), when winning for the second consecutive time aboard On The Fringe and received a seven-day dan.
Nina has previously completed the Grand National course four times from five rides.