Racing: New ban for Spencer puts Yeats ride in doubt

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The Independent Online

A bad weekend for Jamie Spencer became significantly worse at Longchamp yesterday after the No 1 jockey to Aidan O'Brien picked up two more riding bans. It throws into doubt his chances of riding the Derby favourite Yeats when he has his final prep race for the Epsom Classic in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on 8 May.

Spencer is already banned for 1,000 Guineas day at Newmarket on Sunday, although he is appealing against that suspension today. And on Saturday day he was hit with a four-day ban at Navan for careless riding, which means he will be out of action on 3, 5, 6 and 7 May.

He found himself in further hot water in France yesterday after Antonius Pius was second past the post in the Prix de Fontainebleau. Spencer's mount was found to have been the cause of scrimmaging inside the final furlong, with the jockey handed a four-day ban.

Spencer then picked up a two-day suspension for his ride on Esperanto in the following Prix Greffuhle after causing interference. The stewards in France said the bans could run concurrently with the one imposed at Navan.

However, it was thought by the Irish authorities last night that the French ban would in fact start on 4 May (the day there is no racing in Ireland) and continue on 8, 9 and 10 May.

That would mean Spencer missing the ride on Yeats in his Derby prep race at Leopardstown. He would, however, be back for the start of the big Dante meeting at York, which starts on 11 May.

While the young Irishman was meeting trouble in the Prix de Fontainebleau, American Post booked his Classic ticket with a smooth victory in the Group Three contest.

The Criquette Head-Maarek-trained colt made all under Christophe Soumillon to beat Aidan O'Brien's Antonius Pius by a length in the one-mile feature, without his rider having to resort to the whip.

Head-Maarek was perfectly satisfied with the effort of American Post, who now heads to the French 2,000 Guineas back at Longchamp on 16 May. If all goes well he will then head to Epsom for the Derby on 5 June, for which he has been cut to 6-1 second favourite (from 7-1) by Coral behind O'Brien's Yeats. William Hill and Ladbrokes go 6-1 from 8-1.

"I told Christophe not to give him a hard race today. We will take it one step at a time with him, but I think he will be better over further." Soumillon was also in the saddle when American Post won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October.