Richard Johnson: It’s the right time for Mad Moose to bow out [H&H VIP]

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  • The use of the whip is back in the spotlight this week after the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) called Aidan Coleman in for his ride in the Welsh Grand National.

    Aidan won aboard Emperor’s Choice (racing, 8 January), and it turned out he had exceeded the amount of strikes allowed.

    However, the stewards on the day knew this, used their discretion and found it wasn’t an issue.

    Aidan gave Emperor’s Choice a very good ride, and I think it is harsh to question him two weeks later.

    We all want racing to be shown in a good light, and it isn’t pleasant to see someone using the whip too much, but I was at Chepstow working for Channel 4, and it didn’t look in any way to be a problem.

    It was a fantastic race — two horses battling away to the end.

    Aidan hasn’t tried to pretend he didn’t use the whip over the allotted amount. The course stewards are grown adults and the BHA should have dealt with it at the time, if they felt there was a need. It is their mistake; maybe they feel they have to cover themselves and stamp their authority, but I think it is wrong to call him in a fortnight later.

    Up-and-coming talent

    Every year there are new jockeys coming through, and over Christmas we saw some good young riders — including Sean Bowen, Ryan Hatch and Jamie Bargary.

    Any jockey is only as good as the horse they are riding, and it’s great these lads have been given some good opportunities on big days.

    It was good to see Nigel Twiston-Davies keeping it in his yard and putting Jamie up on Splash Of Ginge when Ryan Hatch was injured on New Year’s Day, and it paid off when they won.

    Talking of young riders, I have plenty of sympathy for amateur riders Jake Launchbury and Page Fuller, who received lengthy bans (Jake 21 days and Page 10 days) for almost bypassing a jump.

    Jake — who led, and Page followed — put his hands up and admitted his mistake. However, I can see both sides of the argument as we need to have the rules in place.

    David Bridgwater then spoke out for Jake, and although he made some comments that in hindsight he probably shouldn’t have [and now is expected to face the BHA for actions prejudicial to the good reputation of racing], it was good to see a trainer standing up for his jockey.

    End of the road for Moose

    Mad Moose has now been banned for good from racing, after refusing to start one too many times.

    We all know with horses that you can never be 100% sure of what they are going to do, and he was one of the quirkiest we’ve seen in a while.

    I can’t see he did any harm to racing, but the time had come to bow out. I think it’s good for the sport to have some entertainment though — and he had his followers. He’s already been out hunting, so I’m sure he’ll have a happy retirement.

    Another popular star, Sprinter Sacre, is hopefully due back on Saturday at Ascot after a year off [following a heart condition].

    He went round Newbury in December as a schooling session and he made me smile.

    He came out of Barry Geraghty’s hands at one fence, and almost landed on it, but Barry was happy with him and I would have been pleased too. It shows he has that old spark back. He wouldn’t have made that big leap if he wasn’t feeling well. We all know how good he was, so let’s hope he’s back to his best when he returns.

    Recharging for March

    It is great to be back riding after my ban over Christmas. It was good to do some work for Channel 4 during my break though: it was a new experience and definitely something I’d enjoy doing more of in the future — though I’d rather not have to be suspended!

    January is quiet, as lots of good horses go straight to Cheltenham or Aintree. Philip Hobbs’ horses have been in great form — althought it is a shame Captain Chris is out for the season — and Menorah and Wishfull Thinking will have to have a well-earned break.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 15 January 2015