Racing: Dettori stays on line as phone row escalates

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The Independent Online

The chasm between racing's administrative bodies and the brotherhood of jockeys on the issue of the use of mobile phones grew even wider yesterday. As the British Horseracing Board was endorsing the Jockey Club's controversial new policy on the use of phones on course, Frankie Dettori and several of his weighing-room colleagues left the confines of York racecourse to make and receive calls beyond the tenuous grip of security officers.

Dettori rode in the first race, but then headed for the exit to make calls leaning against the wall outside the main gate. "I came out to make a call because I am going to Salisbury tomorrow and have got to ride work in the morning," the jockey said. "It is going to be a heck of a long day so we are trying to get a helicopter organised. I needed to make a few calls and receive a few, so I went outside. I am just trying to sort out my life and my travelling, that's all."

The Jockey Club has introduced restrictions on the use of mobile phones on course amid security concerns after a court case revealed that they had been used to pass on information. Under the new rules phones must be switched off while the jockeys are on course.

Another disgruntled rider, Philip Robinson, said: "It is not a protest, it is a necessity. We can't do without a mobile and the sooner they come to realise that, the better. We can't keep going on like this or it is going to end up in court."

Yesterday, the BHB board was briefed on the issue by Julian Richmond-Watson, senior steward of the Jockey Club and following the meeting, the BHB chief executive, Greg Nichols, said: "The board fully supports the Jockey Club in their continuing determined efforts to safeguard the integrity of racing.

"The Club has had the benefit of expert advice from its independently-chaired security review group, who, as part of a package of integrity initiatives, proposed measures to restrict jockeys' use of mobile phones on the racecourse.

"Recognising that integrity measures need to be reviewed to take account of technological changes, the board fully supported the Jockey Club's stance. The board noted that the Club had agreed to introduce interim concessions and was pleased to hear the senior steward's confirmation that further discussions with jockeys' representatives are in the process of being arranged."

One rider relieved to be back on course yesterday was John Murtagh who celebrated his rapid rehabilitation from a back injury that had resulted in uncontrollable weight gain with a victory at Limerick. Murtagh, attempting to prove his fitness in order to partner Alamshar in Saturday's Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, reported that he had received treatment from the physiotherapist Liz Kent, who has also been working on John Oxx's stable star.

Dermot Weld is likely to make things easier for Alamshar by diverting Refuse To Bend to Sunday's Prix du Moulin, while the groundsmen at the Foxrock course have reduced the chances of Luca Cumani's Falbrav by watering the course.

Darryll Holland, Falbrav's partner, said: "Falbrav sparkled again this morning and I just hope they don't water before the Champion. My chap needs fast ground and it would be unfair if conditions are changed to go against him."