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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed