Racing: Jockey Club clear Fox over Ice Saint ride

A bad week for the Jockey Club was completed yesterday when two jockeys, Tony McCoy and Sean Fox, successfully appealed against riding bans.

The Hillside Girl case on Tuesday had left racing's policemen grasping thin air and first yesterday came the well-flagged reprieve for McCoy, the jump champion jockey. Less expected was exoneration for Fox, who appeared to give a different meaning to the occupation of jump jockey when he tumbled out of Ice Saint's saddle at Fontwell in March.

Fox, 33, was stood down for 21 days by the local stewards, while it was revealed that Ice Saint had been a drifter both on course and on the betting exchanges. The disciplinary panel did not even reach the matter of the market irregularities yesterday as they could not persuade themselves of the kernel of the case, that Fox had deliberately thrown himself to the ground.

"Having looked at the evidence from all available angles, the panel accepted Fox's explanation that he lost his balance and that Ice Saint had tripped when his legs hit the take-off board and he twisted over the fence," John Maxse, for the Jockey Club, said.

As he left Jockey Club headquarters in London, an emotional Fox said: "I have had six months of hell and hopefully racing will accept me back now. The dark cloud is not going to get any lighter for a while. I would like to get back to riding. I'll do my best."

McCoy yesterday suggested he is as hard to beat over legal argument as obstacles. The multiple champion jockey won his appeal against a 10-day riding ban administered at Bangor last Friday.

It was a collectors' item for anyone who has followed a McCoy career which has had its moments of over-zealousness in the saddle. The Irishman was suspended for dropping his hands on Jonjo O'Neill's Batten Down in a novices' handicap chase, an act which cost him third place. It transpired that the horse had broken a blood vessel.

"I'm very happy to have had the ban quashed," McCoy said. "We had sufficient evidence to justify what I did on the day and that possibly made the job easier for the panel than it was for the stewards at the racecourse. In that respect I understand why they reached the decision they did."

Rory Macniece, the jockey's legal representative, added: "The panel were emphatic that Tony had acted absolutely correctly on the day."

The Jockey Club purge on morphine continued yesterday when 12 winners subsequently found to have the drug in their system were disqualified by the disciplinary panel. Between November 2002 and February 2003, 37 horses produced positive tests for morphine, of which 16 were winners. All have now had their races taken away.

Kieren Fallon is still two winners ahead of Frankie Dettori in their duel for the jockeys' title after both rode doubles yesterday. Fallon's brace came at Pontefract, with Dettori in double form at Yarmouth, and the champion now leads 153-151.

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