Racing: Suspension for jockeys arrested in doping investigation

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The Independent Online
The three jump jockeys arrested on Tuesday over two cases of doping racehorses have had their licences to ride temporarily suspended by the Jockey Club to protect racing's image despite the fact that no criminal charges have been brought. Ian Davies reports.

Jamie Osborne, Leighton Aspell and Dean Gallagher, the three jockeys arrested on Tuesday over two cases of racehorse dopings, were last night suspended from riding by the Jockey Club, racing's rulers, until 5 February.

The top rider plus Dean Gallagher and Leighton Aspell were banned at a special meeting of the Jockey Club's Licensing Committee, held in London. All were present with their legal representatives as the Committee decided upon the temporary withdrawal of their riding licenses.

The Licensing Committee panel consisted of chairman Gurney Sheppard, former jump jockey Philip Blacker and David Gibson, a prominent racehorse breeder.

Osborne, Gallagher and Aspell were released without being charged after spending 12 hours being questioned at Charing Cross Police Station in London on Tuesday. They were bailed to report back on 29 April. But while investigations continue, the Committee had opted to suspend their licences in the best interests of racing.

Osborne is out of action with a broken left wrist but he was expected to begin his comeback in February. Gallagher was due to ride at Lingfield yesterday but missed the mount. The conditional (apprentice) rider Aspell had no rides.

Osborne, 30, has been one of jumps racing's biggest stars in the 1990s, with a string of big-race wins including the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup on Arctic Call and Coome Hill, the Irish Grand National on Flashing Steel and Remittance Man in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Irishman Gallagher, 28, is best known for his association with Gold Cup and Grand National-placed Dubacilla.

Conditional (apprentice) jockey Aspell gained his biggest win on Dreams End in the Crowther Homes Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock last May.

Jamie Osborne's girlfriend yesterday dismissed the allegations as "preposterous". Artist Katie O'Sullivan said that Tuesday's arrest of jump jockey Osborne by officers of the Metropolitan Police's Organised Crime Group "doesn't make any sense". Speaking outside the house in Upper Lambourn which she shares with Osborne and her two children, she said: "The whole thing is preposterous. It just doesn't make any sense at all."

Osborne was held, with fellow jockeys Dean Gallagher, Leighton Aspell and another unnamed man after dawn swoops on Lambourn, Findon and London.

The investigation is focused on the dopings of the Aspell-ridden Lively Knight and Osborne-partnered Avanti Express at Plumpton and Exeter last March and other incidents of race-fixing.

Avanti Express, the 5-4 second-favourite for a hurdle race at Exeter, ran poorly while Lively Knight, the overwhelming 1-7 market leader for a three-runner steeplechase at Plumpton, finished a well-beaten second.

They were both found to have been administered the quick-acting tranquilliser Acetylpromazine (ACP).

Ms O'Sullivan, the former wife of trainer Tim Thomson Jones, told reporters, "I guarantee you Jamie's in London and, if he has got any sense, he will stay there with you lot outside.

"The whole thing is preposterous. It just doesn't make any sense.

"If anybody in their right minds thinks you are going to give a horse something and then ride it in a race - it's just plain stupid. These animals weigh two tons."

The Licensing Committee has the authority to temporarily suspend the licenses of the jockeys if it is believed to be in the best interests of racing.

The Jockey Club's spokesman, John Maxse, said: "All three jockeys have been invited to attend and it is our understanding that at least one of them will be present."

Jockey Carl Llewellyn yesterday summed up the feelings of his fellow jockeys in the weighing room at Lingfield yesterday about the allegations.

Llewellyn, who rode Party Politics to win the Grand National in 1992, said: "We feel it has all been a big mistake. It seems the police have put two and two together and come up with the wrong number.

"We have had a day to think about it, and the more we do, the more ridiculous it appears. You couldn't really fix jumping races, there are too many things involved. In fact it would be nigh on impossible.

"We are sure the three will be completely exonerated in the end. In all my time in racing I have never come across anything that is as dicey as this is being made out to be."

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