Racing: Sandown threatened by jockeys' phone protest

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The Independent Online

With jockeys threatening to boycott Sunday's meeting at Sandown as part of an increasingly bitter dispute with the Jockey Club over their on-course use of mobile phones, officials at the Esher track may launch a pre-emptive strike tomorrow and call off the card. Sandown has been targeted by riders because it is owned by the Racecourse Holdings Trust, a subsidiary of the Jockey Club.

The gap between the two sides appeared to widen yesterday. Racing's rulers, as part of a security crackdown, want to control jockeys' calls to and from the weighing room during racing to limit information leaks by use of a supervised "phone zone"; the riders argue that their phones are essential and must be active at all times. Yesterday at Doncaster, 17 of them, including senior men in Frankie Dettori, Pat Eddery and the Hills twins, sat on a wall outside the racecourse to make calls.

"In all my time I've never known anything like this," said Eddery. "It's not so much that we object to the inference that jockeys are dishonest; we have no problem with increasing security. It's just purely the practicality of it all. You could miss a flight or a ride if you don't pick up a message immediately. We are all united on this one and the trainers agree with us." Philip Robinson, who has been leading the jockeys' fight, added: "This will get worse before it gets better."

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