Jockey Club aims to accelerate punters' cash flow: Racing

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The Independent Online
Anyone daring to call the Jockey Club antediluvian are the ones out of touch now. In one impressive stride yesterday racing's regulators announced that they can now be contacted by e-mail and that their racecourse stewards will soon be conducting inquiries using something called a telephone.

It is the telephonic development that carries the most significance for punters. It forms part of a package aimed at speeding up stewards' inquiries and should result in punters being able to collect and recirculate their winnings quickly enough to keep the bookmakers happy. The Tote chairman, Lord Wyatt, once estimated that lengthy stewards' inquiries cost the sport pounds 1m a year due to the drop in turnover.

Jockeys planning to lodge an objection will have to announce their intention as they weigh in and will then be allowed five minutes in which to confirm or withdraw their protest. At present five minutes is allowed for objections to be lodged after the winner has weighed in.

Under the proposed procedures, if no jockey objects at the weigh in and no inquiry is announced, the "All Right" signal can be issued straight away saving five minutes on the race.

If an inquiry is required, that can be conducted over the telephone between the stewards in their box on the racecourse and jockeys in the inquiry room.

With only 23 objections during 7,271 races last year, the Jockey Club calculates that betting turnover should benefit enormously from the five minutes it will save.

Both developments will undergo trials at Southwell next month and, if successful, they will be extended to the other all-weather tracks. Turf courses will adopt all or some of the initiatives depending on their configuration.

The Jockey Club's director of regulation, Malcolm Wallace, said: "We have studied procedures used by other turf authorities and are trialling some of their proven methods, suitably amended for use in this country.

"By increasing betting time, they will help both the punters and the betting industry, thus increasing the levy. Consequently racing as a whole will benefit.

The Jockey Club's web site (http://www.nettec.co.uk/jockeyclub/ or e- mail contact: jockeyclub@nettec.co.uk) will have pages of historical background on the organisation. It will contain a news page with the Club's latest press statements as well as up-to-date disciplinary details on jockeys' suspensions.

One of the first names to appear on that site will be that of Fergal Lynch. The leading apprentice was referred to Club HQ at Portman Square for his riding of Mijas, first past the post in the sprint handicap at Lingfield yesterday.

The stewards found that Mijas had interfered with Daaniera, who in turn interfered with Mister Raider and Sihafi, and that the interference was caused by irresponsible riding.

As Lynch had already been suspended for a total of 12 days for riding offences within the previous 12 months, he must explain himself before the Club's Disciplinary Committee.

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