Racing: Ascot drunk is banned

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JUSTICE, of a sort, was finally handed out to James Florey yesterday. The 21-year-old student, whose drunken foray on to the track at Royal Ascot in June caused Michael Kinane and his mount Papago to suffer a crashing fall, was warned off all British racecourses for five years by the Jockey Club's disciplinary committee.

Some might feel that his punishment is lenient, but the committee took into account Florey's admission that his intention was not to disrupt the race, but to gain access to the grandstand enclosure without the irritation of paying for a ticket. Believing that the field in the Ribblesdale Stakes had passed his position near the furlong pole, he ducked under a rail and made to cross the course, but ran straight under the hooves of the well-beaten Papago, who had dropped off the main bunch after been eased by Kinane. Florey, who was detained overnight in hospital with cuts and bruises, came off worst, but most observers felt that he was lucky to escape with his life.

'I apologised to them and explained that I had been drinking with my friends,' Florey said. 'I would probably have gone to a race meeting, but it's not that important to me. The incident has taught me not to drink too much and then run out in front of horses.'

Florey may have learned his lesson, but it remains to be seen whether its implications will be digested elsewhere. Florey's party had been noticeably drunk and raucous throughout the afternoon, and several racegoers claimed to have heard discussion of an attempt to cross the course and reported the possibility to the gatemen. Courses are naturally reluctant to eject their customers, but it is an option which should perhaps be exercised a little more frequently.

The disciplinarians were unusually busy yesterday. Once Florey had been dealt with, Richard Quinn appeared to appeal against a two-day ban for careless riding on Silver Groom at York last week. Not only was the ban upheld, it was doubled in length and Quinn's appeal deemed so frivolous that he forfeited his deposit money.

One defendant who did not appear in person was Azureus, who has seemed to be training for a second career as an artist's model on his last two racecourse visits, most recently refusing to race when a 13-8 favourite at Catterick. The committee decided to spare punters further anguish until next year at least, and no entries will be accepted for him before 1 January 1995.