Racing: 'Embarrassed' Fox back in spotlight on Ice Saint

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The Independent Online

Sean Fox, the jockey accused of deliberately jumping off Ice Saint at Fontwell 11 days ago, resumes his partnership with the same horse in a race at Fakenham today. Fox, who was described yesterday as feeling "devastated and embarrassed", will have his riding performance closely watched by officials and punters alike.

Ice Saint is one of eight declared runners for a beginners chase at 2.50, of three miles and 110 yards. After Fox was banned for 21 days by the Fontwell stewards for "stepping off" Ice Saint, he pleaded: "I've been tarred with the same brush as Kieren Fallon".

By coincidence, the horse on which Fallon picked up a 21-day ban at Lingfield the previous week - Ballinger Ridge - also runs today, back at the same track. The champion Flat jockey will not be aboard the horse on which he was beaten after dropping his hands. The gelding will be ridden by Martin Dwyer, who won on him 10 days ago.

Today's odds for Ice Saint will be closely monitored. The nine-year-old grey drifted on betting exchanges and with bookmakers prior to the Fontwell race. It was the enthusiasm of various people to take bets on the horse - coupled with the way Fox ''fell" - that attracted suspicion.

Fox came off the Matt Gingell-trained horse just after the ninth fence. The stewards found him in breach of Rule 157, in that he had "stepped off" his horse. The rider has strenuously denied that he deliberately jumped off his mount and has decided to appeal against his suspension.

Officials at the Jockey Club have launched an investigation into the race and that is on-going, according to a spokes-man at Portman Square, London. Fox was originally suspended from 19 March through to 8 April but the appeal has been put on hold until the investigation is complete. He is therefore eligible to ride today.

Gingell, who also runs Knockanard in the race, reiterated his support for Fox yesterday. ''We were all keen to have him back on the horse,. He has the full backing of everyone," he said. ''He's been devastated and feeling embarrassed and hurt. When something like this happens, all you want is some support because you are gutted you have let everyone down.

''But then to have some allegations thrown at you as well is embarrassing. I've schooled the horse twice myself since his last run and he has negotiated probably 14 fences in his own unique style. We'll all be trying our hardest for the owners, as we always do."

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