Racing: Roberts to miss Goodwood after appeal against ban fails

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MICHAEL ROBERTS failed yesterday to overturn his controversial 10-day ban. The champion jockey's suspension now goes ahead from Monday and means he misses numerous rides on top-class horses at the Glorious Goodwood meeting which starts the following day.

Roberts appealed to the Jockey Club over the ban, imposed last Saturday by the Newbury stewards after he had won on Sabrehill. The stewards decided he had 'purposely interfered' with the runner-up, Bobzao, three furlongs out.

But at a two-hour hearing yesterday, the Club's disciplinary committee upheld the ban and confirmed the disqualification of Sabrehill.

The South African said: 'I thought there was a glimmer of hope. I can't believe what's happened. I'm shocked. I was very hopeful that the decision would be overturned - or at worst reduced to four days for careless riding.'

'This sort of incident happens every day and it was only because it happened in the home straight that they took action,' Roberts said. 'If it had happened on the turn I am sure no action would have been taken.'

The disciplinary committee reached its decision after viewing videos of the race which showed Sabrehill brush Bobzao before going clear to beat that horse by four lengths.

Roberts commented that Richard Quinn, Bobzao's rider, had been very supportive during yesterday's inquiry. Quinn had used the legitimate tactic of keeping Roberts boxed in on the rails. 'I don't blame him, he was only doing his job. I might have put the brakes on and switched round but I knew what I was doing.'

This latest ban takes the total days for which Roberts has been suspended this season to 23. It virtually ends all hope of him retaining his jockeys' title. He is now looking to tomorrow's King George to give him a lift. 'Opera House might just get me out of a fix,' he said, offering a tip for the Ascot showpiece.

Johnnie Gilbert, obituary, page 24