Jockey power calls off Haydock

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Trainers, owners and punters were left angry and bewildered at Haydock Park yesterday when a wildcat strike by 21 jockeys forced the stewards to abandon the card after just a single race. The riders, including Lanfranco Dettori, Pat Eddery and Walter Swinburn, felt that the track was unsafe, and refused to leave the weighing-room before the Sycamore Nursery Handicap.

Swinburn described the ground as "atrocious" after riding in the first race, while Dettori said: "I don't think it's safe and all my colleagues agree with me." The jockeys were particularly concerned that horses might slip on the turn into the straight, but when the stewards inspected the course as a result of their complaints, they decided that the card should continue. When the jockeys still refused to ride, abandonment was the only option.

Gary Hind, who was due to ride Sparkling Harry, was happy to go along with the word of the senior riders. "As soon as those who went out reported back to us we decided that we should all stick together and not race. I haven't had a good season and this was my only ride today. We all wanted to ride but if it's unsafe why go out there and take the risk?"

But the jockeys' actions, or inaction, did not please everybody. "I have never known anything like this," Bill Nunneley, the stewards' secretary, said. "There was nothing more we could do. We will submit a confidential report to the Jockey Club and it is up to them to take the matter further."

Anthony Cann, whose father owned a runner in the nursery, echoed Nunneley's frustration. "It's just mob rule," he said. "These jockeys are getting like footballers, they are just too big for their boots."

Since many of the jockeys had travelled a long way to ride at Haydock and were giving up any chance of remuneration, it is fair to assume that their concerns were genuine. Their decision may yet prove more costly still, however. The only recent precedent for yesterday's events was in July 1989, when 11 jockeys - including Swinburn - refused to ride at Beverley. They were later fined between pounds 250 and pounds 750.

However, John Maxse, a Jockey Club spokesman, said: "It wouldn't be fair to compare that incident with this one. We've not had the report from Haydock yet so we don't know what is going to happen."

Racing, page 29