Racing: Jockey banned for 'stepping off' horse halfway through race

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The Independent Online

A ban of 21 days was imposed on a jockey yesterday after he was accused of jumping off his mount during a steeplechase at Fontwell Park, West Sussex.

Sean Fox became separated from Ice Saint in the Cantor Sport Beginners' Chase. A stewards' inquiry was held into the running and riding of the horse, whose odds drifted alarmingly - both with course bookmakers and on-line betting exchanges. Fox came off at the ninth fence. Having heard his evidence, and that of the trainer Matt Gingell, and viewed video recordings of the race, the stewards found the rider in breach of rule 157, in that he had stepped off his horse.

Rule 157 states it is an offence for a jockey to fail to take all reasonable measures to obtain the best possible placing "with the intention of concealing the true ability of the horse or affecting the result of the race".

After hearing the judgement, Fox said: "I have been tarred with the same brush as Kieren Fallon. If they think I am mad enough to jump off at about 30mph, they must be barmy." Gingell said: "I'm under the impression that Sean should have stayed on the horse. But Mrs Ali Roberts [the horse's owner], who is a criminal lawyer, is perfectly satisfied that Sean was acting in her best interests. I think we'll appeal."

The Jockey Club took its first steps in dealing with the Kieren Fallon case yesterday, banning the jockey for 21 days for throwing away victory in a race at Lingfield last week.