Racing: Murphy banned for King George

Timmy Murphy's near-perfect start to his association with the Martin Pipe stable has suffered a second setback after the last-fence fall of Our Vic at Cheltenham on Saturday. The jockey was found guilty of "improper riding" in a minor race at Plumpton yesterday and banned for seven days that include some of the most important races of the jumping year.

Timmy Murphy's near-perfect start to his association with the Martin Pipe stable has suffered a second setback after the last-fence fall of Our Vic at Cheltenham on Saturday. The jockey was found guilty of "improper riding" in a minor race at Plumpton yesterday and banned for seven days that include some of the most important races of the jumping year.

Murphy will be unable to ride in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, a race in which he would have partnered Our Vic or Therealbandit, and will also miss the ride on Beef Or Salmon when he meets Best Mate in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on 28 December.

For a jockey who is renowned for his sympathetic attitude to horses, there is a some irony that the ban should be for an act of intolerance towards one of his mounts. Murphy, 29, threw his whip at the horse Semi Precious in frustration after a fall. The Paul Keane-trained six-year-old had been going well in a two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase but had jumped right on several occasions and fell four out.

A frustrated Murphy got up and flung his whip at the rear of the horse with his left hand, striking it on the hind quarters as it galloped away.

The stewards found him guilty of "improper riding, in that Murphy had attempted to strike his horse when it got to its feet". They suspended him for seven days, from 26 December to 1 January inclusive.

The stipendiary steward, Richard Westrop, said: "We have found him guilty under the improper-riding rule, which applies whether or not the jockey is mounted on the horse."

Murphy, who rode a double for Pipe during the afternoon on Locksmith and Royal Hector, was fuming afterwards and offered a terse "no comment".

Murphy's agent, Chris Broad, believes the rider will appeal against the decision. "He'll need to take advice, but I can't see him not appealing," he said.

"Timmy cares about horses - everybody says he is too sympathetic, and most people knock him because he is not hard enough on horses. Everybody can see he went to catch the horse and missed it.

"The other day, with Our Vic, he didn't leave it [after its fall] until he knew the horse was OK, and he tried to catch this horse as well. I'm very unhappy," Broad added, "that Timmy seems to have been branded as someone who will beat up a horse. It just didn't happen."

This weekend's highlight is the Ascot meeting transferred to Windsor and Baracouda has been installed as the 1-3 favourite by Cashmans to record a fourth success in the Long Walk Hurdle on Saturday.

The brilliant French gelding will face a maximum of nine rivals in the Grade One race, which will be run at the Thamesside track for the first time while Ascot is under rubble as it continues its redevelopment.

"Baracouda has come out of his run at Newbury in superb form and I'm very happy with him," his trainer, François Doumen, said yesterday.

The nine-year-old had Tony McCoy on board for the first time at Newbury when he had three-quarters of a length to spare over Crystal D'Ainay, who is to reoppose on Saturday.

Frank Berry, racing manager to Baracouda's owner, JP McManus, added: "It's always hard to judge with Baracouda because he doesn't do a lot in front, but I think Crystal D'Ainay is an improving, up-and-coming horse and he'd be entitled to put it up to him.

Long Walk Hurdle (Ascot, Saturday) Cashmans: 1-3 Baracouda, 7-1 Crystal D'Ainay, 8-1 Rule Supreme, 10-1 Sh Boom, 14-1 Telemoss, Ilnamar, 25-1 It Takes Time, 33-1 Geos, 50-1 Kadara, Knock Down.

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