There was an interesting article in Racing Plus recently concerning the issuing of bans and fines to riders in our amateur sport.
It is certainly topical, given the relatively high number of point-to-point riders falling foul of the new starting procedures when in hunter chases under Rules. An example was the Cheltenham Foxhunter, when 12 riders received one- or two-day bans for not obeying the starter.
The principle of a ban is sound when a rider deliberately ignores an instruction or knowingly commits a breach of the rules. However, the apparent reluctance of the stewards to impose a slap on the wrist for first-time offenders is a concern.
Regardless of professional or amateur status, a ban means a risk of losing an important ride. To professional jockeys, a ban is also a stop to their earnings.
A fine, on the other hand, can be harsh on an amateur rider if not imposed within reason, which is something I think has been lost on the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Leading Irish amateur Jamie Codd was banned for 10 days and fined £400 after winning aboard Cause Of Causes at Cheltenham. Although laced with glory, it meant an expensive trip over the Irish Sea.
More recently I suffered the ignominy of missing the riders’ call for a Chepstow hunter chase. As if the embarrassment of arriving into the paddock late was not enough, I was fined £140, despite apologising for what was a simple timing error. When added to my travel and valet’s fee, the ride ended up costing me well in excess of £200, which far exceeded the meagre £138 third-place prize money my mount secured for connections!
In my view, the BHA needs to review the implementation of bans and fines urgently where amateurs are concerned, because the current lack of discretion or leniency does nothing to encourage young riders into what is already a very expensive hobby or potential future career.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 April 2015