Racing: Ferris banned from riding after failing alcohol breath test

Fran Ferris, one of the four jockeys facing charges as part of the Horseracing Regulatory Authority's latest investigation into alleged corruption, was banned from riding at Salisbury yesterday after he failed a breathalyser test at the course.

His only mount of the day was due to be Inka Dancer, who was unplaced in the opening Sydenhams Handicap and on whom he was replaced by Ted Durcan.

Twenty-five-year-old Ferris has ridden 17 winners this year, the most recent being Auction Oasis at Lingfield on Wednesday.

Owen Byrne, the Horseracing Regulatory Authority spokesman, said: "Fran Ferris has failed a breath test - two of them - which meant he was stood down from riding for the day. Then he opted to take a urine sample.

"When you fail a test, the disciplinary action that follows depends on the level of alcohol you've got in you. If it's a certain level it goes to a caution but if it's above a certain level you can be suspended for between 28 and 60 days by the disciplinary panel.

"Ferris has opted to take a urine sample and the level of it will determine whether he gets a suspension or a caution. Once a rider opts to take a urine sample all disciplinary action rests on that urine sample." The results of the test are expected to be known in a week.

Yesterday's episode is the latest in a troubled period for Ferris, who was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years, by Bury St Edmunds magistrates last month after he pleaded guilty to a wounding offence.

Ferris was also given a 12-month supervision order, 200 hours community service, banned from public houses in Newmarket and a two-mile radius for two years, and ordered to pay £1,345 compensation to his victim. The sentence followed an incident at the White Hart Hotel in Newmarket in February.

In 2004 Ferris served six weeks of a four-month prison sentence after admitting dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol after being almost three times over the limit when stopped following a police chase in Newmarket.

In racing, Ferris also has a poor disciplinary record, having incurred suspensions totalling 177 days since the summer of 2001, mostly for whip offences.

Ferris, together with Robert Winston, Robbie Fitzpatrick and Luke Fletcher, are accused by the HRA of a variety of offences in connection with the security department investigation centred on 37 races between 16 June 2003 and 29 February 2004.

The riders are charged with having provided information for reward, or passing information that would subsequently be used for corrupt gain that was otherwise not in the public domain. Ferris, Winston and Fletcher are also alleged to have attempted to mislead investigators and provide them with inaccurate information.

All four jockeys deny the charges against them.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Peruvian Style

(Chepstow 5.00)

NB: Benandonner

(Kempton 3.45)

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