Derby controversy: jockey told she can’t ride in Epsom Classic

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  • Controversy has arisen over jockey declarations ahead of the Investec Derby at Epsom (3 June).

    The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) refused to accept the declaration of 1,000-1 shot Diore Lia ridden by Gina Mangan, citing safety reasons.

    For the first time in recent memory, the BHA decided under Rule (F)83 that it would be “in the best interests of the sport” not to accept Gina as the rider of Diore Lia in the Group One Classic.

    The three-year-old mare is rated 52 and has been well beaten her last, and only, two previous races. Apprentice jockey Paddy Pilley, who has partnered 34 winners out of 471 rides, has now picked up the ride.

    Gina, an apprentice jockey with the filly’s trainer John Jenkins, has had 69 rides and one winner.

    “Everyone involved in horseracing has a responsibility to place the welfare of our participants, both equine and human, first,” said Jamie Stier, chief regulatory officer for the BHA.

    “It is in this context that the decision has been made.

    “While risk can never be removed entirely, it is possible to identify factors that can increase risk, and act on them.

    “While Miss Mangan has held her licence for a number of years she remains inexperienced.

    “She has never ridden at Epsom and certainly never ridden in a race on the scale and stage of the Derby, with all the unique challenges it presents.

    “While there are currently no race conditions regarding rider or horse qualification for the Derby, or any other Flat Pattern race in Britain, whether there should be is something that we have already started considering prior to the events of the last seven days.

    “The specific matter of Miss Mangan’s booking has been under consideration since it became known that she would be booked.”

    He added the BHA “fully understands” this is extremely disappointing, but believes the decision is “the correct one in the best interests of all concerned and the sport”.

    Gina told the Racing Post last week that she does “deserve a shot” at it and planned to donate her riding fee and any prize money to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

    The horse’s owner Richard Aylward vigorously defended the decision to run the mare with Gina aboard in the 12-furlong Classic.

    Trainer Mr Jenkins has also publicly stood behind Mr Aylward’s decision to enter the horse in the Derby.

    “Gina is a good, competent rider. There are no worries on that score,” he is reported to have said.

    H&H has contacted Mr Jenkins for comment.

    “An unenviable position”

    The decision has sparked lively debate on both sides of the argument.

    Leading Flat jockey Ryan Moore has come out in support of the BHA’s decision.

    “They have done the right thing by the horse, Diore Lia, and, while Gina Mangan may not appreciate it at the moment, they have done the right thing by the jockey, too,” he wrote in his Betfair column today.

    “This is a dangerous game, as we unfortunately see far too often, and you simply couldn’t allow an inexperienced horse and rider to be placed into the situation that they would have been at Epsom on Saturday (3 June).

    “Who is to say what would have happened in front of a massive, worldwide TV audience?”

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    Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), said it is a “very difficult situation”.

    “The PJA is a broad church with our membership ranging from young jockeys who haven’t yet ridden to some of the best jockeys in the world,” he said.

    “Our job is to represent the best interests of all of them, mindful of the interests of the sport as a whole.

    “I have spoken to Gina this morning and she is obviously very disappointed that she won’t be able to ride in the Derby on Saturday.

    “She was very much looking forward to the opportunity having read that there was no barrier to her participation.

    “Her reaction to the disappointment was admirable and the attitude she has shown will no doubt stand her in good stead as she pursues her career as jockey.

    “We have enormous sympathy for Gina and the position she has found herself in, having been thrust into the spotlight this week.

    “Yet we also recognise that there were concerns raised by other PJA members about such an inexperienced jockey, with no previous experience of riding at Epsom, taking the mount on an outclassed horse in the biggest, arguably most important, Flat race of the year.

    The BHA were in an unenviable position and in the circumstances we believe they have taken the right decision, albeit in hindsight it would have been far preferable not to have given Gina the public green light to ride earlier in the week.”

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