Racing: First it was Zidane in the World Cup final. Now a jockey is accused of headbutting his horse after the 3.10 at Stratford...

At least Zinedine Zidane's attack was on the same species when he wrought his vengeance on the Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final.

Unlike Zidane, the jockey Paul O'Neill is unable to plead verbal provocation - for his apparent victim was a horse, albeit the notoriously unco-operative City Affairs. The Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA) confirmed yesterday that it was taking action over the incident on Sunday.

O'Neill, an apprentice, unseated on the way to the start at Stratford, caught hold of the reins. He appeared to square up to the animal and then butt him smartly on the nose. Though the jockey was wearing a riding helmet, City Affairs stared back with a magnificent blend of apathy and mockery.

John O'Shea, the horse's trainer, was not aware of the episode until yesterday and did not wish to comment on O'Neill's conduct until seeing the footage captured by the specialist channel, At The Races.

"It was only Paul's second ride for me and I wouldn't know him well enough to say that it was out of character," O'Shea said. "What I would say is that the horse himself seemed transformed at the races. It was his first run for me and he had seemed very straightforward at home, but it was a different story at the track. He was very difficult in the saddling boxes; he was kicking the stable to bits. In the end we had to saddle him outside.

"Then when they cantered down to look at the first hurdle, he refused to come back and Paul had to take his feet out of the irons [stirrups] and get him back that way. Then I heard the commentator say that Paul had been unseated, and nearly thrown on to a car. I didn't see that, and wasn't aware of anything else until people started calling me about it. Certainly Paul didn't mention it afterwards; he just said that the horse had been very difficult and that in future it might be an idea to have him led to the start."

Having remounted, O'Neill got City Affairs home in fourth place, albeit in a mere selling hurdle - the lowest category of race. Judging from the way he rode in the finish, moreover, they had not resolved their differences. The stewards summoned O'Neill after the race and cautioned him for having used his whip "without allowing the horse sufficient time to respond".

But they were unable to punish O'Neill for his earlier behaviour because none of their own cameras were filming. At The Races have, in the meantime, forwarded a video to the HRA, whose spokesman confirmed that the jockey would be summoned to a hearing at its headquarters in London next week. "The footage has now been reviewed," Paul Struthers, a spokesman, said. "Paul O'Neill will have to face a disciplinary panel hearing on a charge of improper riding. We did receive one or two calls expressing concern, but were able to offer our assurances that the incident is being dealt with."

In fairness to O'Neill, one of the most talented young jump jockeys on the scene, his conduct could sooner be described as petulant than malicious. He is not the first jockey to lose his temper with a recalcitrant mount on a hot summer day, though the only known case of a man being able to punch a horse to the ground can be found in the spoof western, Blazing Saddles.

In August 2003, Eddie Ahern was banned for four days after dismounting a filly who was refusing to go down to the start at Bath. He kicked her in the belly, though once again succeeded only in making himself look ridiculous. The filly did not turn a hair and won the race easily.

Zidane, meanwhile, should be grateful Fifa does not have the penalties available to trainers when dissatisfied with a racehorse. One of the most progressive Flat runners in Britain is named in the footballer's honour. A couple of weeks ago, he was well beaten when favourite for a historic handicap at Newmarket, and his trainer revealed yesterday that Zidane has just been gelded. One can only imagine what Signor Materazzi might do with that information.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own