Racing: Curtain rises on Jockey Club show

Les Miserables continued its run in London yesterday, also the Woman In White, but the hottest ticket on Shaftesbury Avenue was at No 151, the new, gleaming premises of the Jockey Club.

Les Miserables continued its run in London yesterday, also the Woman In White, but the hottest ticket on Shaftesbury Avenue was at No 151, the new, gleaming premises of the Jockey Club.

At first glance, the appeal of the 7lb claimer Kristin Stubbs against a two-day suspension meted out by the Wolverhampton stewards was not the stuff of dramatic legend. Yet history was being made.

This was the first time since the Jockey Club was founded at the sniffing distance of Pall Mall in 1750, at the Star And Garter, that the gentlemen of the press had been allowed to sit in on a disciplinary hearing. Glasnost had arrived.

It was easy to feel divinely chosen as one of the nine figures of the Fourth Estate to be at this momentous point, like a traveller in the boat with George Washington, or among the crew of Apollo 13.

However, the court case itself was no cause célèbre. There was nothing here of The Winslow Boy or Twelve Angry Men, rather the tale of The Bet Direct Live Football In Running Banded Stakes at Dunstall Park last month.

There was little of the Jockey Club caricature about the surroundings either. The Club have moved from their long-time base at Portman Square a mile to the north-east because it was becoming sad and decrepit. The building that is. No 151 is different altogether, strange-shaped vermillion seats in the reception and an impression of modernity everywhere.

Most alarming of all, there is no rear entrance through which inquiry combatants can leave to thwart the press. David Pipe, the old Club spokesman, must be turning in his mausoleum. It is another matter for the in-tray of the modern chief of damage limitation, John Maxse.

In the Shaftesbury hearing room there is no walnut panelling, wigs or gavel. It is all rather disappointing. The reality is beige carpeting, white walls and, in the absence of the mob clamouring for a jockey's head, the gentle hum of air conditioning.

But, here in the heart of theatreland, showtime remains. The experienced racecourse stewards Tim Bell, John Wallinger and Stephen Allday were yesterday asked to consider the events of 24 January at Dunstall Park.

For those determined that the Jockey Club remains little more than a Star Chamber of the privileged the portents were reassuring. All three of the adjudicators were middle-aged and spectacled and, especially damning, two of them wore pinkie rings.

There was repetitious video playing of a scrimmage, the like of which is witnessed every day on the sharp bends of our all-weather racecourses. The learned judges determined that the problems were caused neither by Stubbs nor her fellow jockey, Alan Daly, who was another contender for the chop. It was their opinion that it was accidental interference caused by a another runner, Silver Island, dropping back through the field.

The strange thing about this interpretation for the lampoonists was that it was wholly accurate. Everyone emerged happy, especially Stubbs, who had listened to Daly and fellow rider Joanna Badger be rude about her riding.

"Me and Jo are friends," she said. "They were just doing their jobs. What happens in inquiries is different." Then she was off to Oxford Street to go shopping with her mother Linda, the Malton trainer. Pagan Storm, the horse at the centre of one, will again be under her drivings at Wolverhampton on Sunday.

Ten days earlier, at the Midlands course, it had clearly been a race of high anxiety for the local stewards panel. Stubbs aside, they gave Adam Kirby, on the winner Pirouettes, a one-day ban for improper riding because of his use of the whip, while they also ruled that Paddy Mathers on Zahunda had interfered with Badger's mount Didoe and suspended him for two days.

On the most contentious of these issues, the Portman Square panel ruled that Antony Larkin, Caroline Wilson and Lord Annaly had got it wrong. In other circumstances yesterday, it would have been easy to think these three had wasted our time.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us