Aspell defends Lively ride

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The Independent Online
The jockey Leighton Aspell yesterday responded to criticism of his riding of the defeated 1-7 favourite Lively Knight at Plumpton on Saturday. The gelding's owner, Alan Weller, has threatened to withdraw his horses, including the leading novice hurdler Boardroom Shuffle, from the stables of Lively Knight's trainer, Josh Gifford.

Weller maintained that Aspell rode "against orders" in the three-runner novice chase in which Lively Knight was never able to get to grips with the winner, Stormhill Pilgrim, who made most of the running under Gifford's stable jockey, Philip Hide.

Yesterday Aspell, a conditional rider, said: "It wasn't a fixed race at all. The horse just didn't go on the ground and he seemed over the top as he gave me no feel at all. Any professional could see from a long way out that he wasn't going on the ground. I won on him before but that was on soft going."

Gifford said that Weller had yet to pass on to him a decision on his charges. "I've not heard anything more from him today," the trainer said. "I am obviously hopeful of keeping the horses."