Official may now face inquiry

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The final mutterings emerged yesterday in the case of the Haydock jockeys' strike, or rather, the strike that officially never took place.

A Jockey Club inquiry decided late on Thursday night that the 21 riders who apparently refused to leave the weighing room at Haydock on 16 October were in fact simply unaware that they had been requested to do so.

One of their number, Dean McKeown, re-emphasised the point yesterday. while also standing up for the racecourse officials involved in the confusion, who may now face censure by the same Disciplinary Committee which decided that the jockeys were not to blame for the incident.

"The jockeys felt sorry for Paul Barton [the stewards' secretary and a former jockey himself]," McKeown said. "He was running around trying to get the opinions of 51 jockeys in the weighing room, owners and trainers and trying to deal with everybody else wanting to know what was going on. Everything happened so quickly that there was total confusion. We accept that nobody was guilty of anything. Paul Barton was put under unfair pressure.

"We didn't strike. That may be what people like Mick Easterby think but it was a breakdown in communications and it was taken out of our hands.

"All we want to see in future is a procedure that ensures everyone is able to express their view so that nothing like this every happens again."

Haydock's clerk of the course, meanwhile, expressed his annoyance that the Jockey Club's finding that the course was fit for racing had been overlooked. "I think that was a fundamental issue and it's pathetic that it didn't seem to be taken into account," Philip Arkwright said. "Apart from that I have no comment. What happened to the jockeys is nothing to do with me."