Racing: Whip controversy continues to sour Kempton classic

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DISPUTE was the legacy of the jumps season's most exciting race yesterday, as the riding bans imposed on the first two jockeys in the King George VI Chase on Monday continued to attract criticism, writes Greg Wood.

David Nicholson, trainer of the King George winner, Barton Bank, said that the two-day suspensions for Adrian Maguire, his stable jockey, and Declan Murphy, who rode second-placed Bradbury Star, had 'tarnished the race. It was an epic and neither horse was under pressure until after the last. My horse has not been marked.'

Nicholson reported that Barton Bank will now go straight to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup. Murphy, meanwhile, may go straight to Jockey Club headquarters to appeal against his ban.

'I'm considering an appeal, not just for my own benefit but for the benefit of racing,' he said yesterday. 'The stewards were entitled to hold an inquiry, but I feel that if that's how they're going to interpret the rules, it's bad for everybody.

'They said that I didn't give my horse time to respond, but I didn't even pick my stick up until 15 strides from the line, which is about nine seconds, so what is the time span required?'

Martin Pipe could offer no explanation for the disappointing run by Rolling Ball, who dropped away rapidly a long way from home after setting a strong pace with Young Hustler and Barton Bank. 'He was very disappointing, too bad to be true,' Pipe said. 'He has a bruised foot which might have stopped him, but I just don't know.'

Young Hustler, who finished fourth, may get closer to Barton Bank at Cheltenham. 'Kempton didn't really suit him, it's so much like a greyhound track,' Nigel Twiston-Davies, his trainer, said. 'But he'll be back.'

Stratford card and results, page 22