Hughes banned for St Leger

Second-placed jockey and Eddie Ahern suspended for careless riding offences

Both Richard Hughes and Eddie Ahern will miss the St Leger meeting next month after being handed 16-day suspensions by the British Horseracing Authority's disciplinary panel yesterday. The bans were inevitable once both men triggered the totting-up procedure with recent careless riding offences, having already amassed 24 enforced days off in the past 12 months.

Hughes is second behind Ryan Moore in the jockeys' table and is currently heading for his best-ever year with 111 wins at a 20 per cent strike rate. In the past 16 days he has had 73 mounts at 16 different meetings and won on 14 of them, including Big Audio, whose right-hand drift when scoring at Salisbury took his rider over the threshold to yesterday's punishment.

The much criticised totting-up procedure is under review, with its 12-month window likely to be reduced to six by next year, but that is little consolation for those who have been affected this season. At Doncaster's prestige fixture, starting a week on Wednesday, there are numerous valuable contests, including the season's final Classic, and Hughes reckons his unwanted holiday will cost him some £30,000.

"If you keep offending with the whip, you deserve to be done," said _the Irishman, beaten by a nose on the first of his six rides at Lingfield yesterday, "because it's laid down how many time you can hit a horse. But careless riding is different; racing is a contact sport, the number of rides I have, incidents are inevitable. But it seems you can be banned for the most minimal case."

King's Apostle, second favourite for the Haydock Sprint Cup tomorrow week, will race no more after succumbing to injury, it was announced yesterday. The William Haggas-trained son of King's Best notched his first success at the highest level when he took the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville earlier this month. But at least the five-year-old will have a retirement, in his case at stud. Sadly, Biniou, a winner three times this year, due to run at the Curragh on Sunday and fancied for the season's top sprint handicap, next month's Ayr Gold Cup, died yesterday after fracturing an ankle bone on the Newmarket gallops.

A decision will be made today about the participation of Monitor Closely in the St Leger. The colt, a son of top sprinter Oasis Dream, put himself in the frame for the Classic by winning the best of the recognised trials, the Great Voltigeur Stakes, and is challenging for third favouritism. But a £45,000 supplementary entry fee will be needed to add him to the field.

The progressive colt, from the close family of the 1987 St Leger winner Reference Point, took the York race (and its £83,000 prize) by a clear four lengths. "That performance threw me a bit," admitted trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam. "I knew he was in good form and a decent horse, but being by Oasis Dream I didn't think he'd stay. But he did, and with there being only 11 entries still in the race, we're going to have to think seriously about running."

Turf account: Sue Montgomery


Deauville Post (2.20 Newmarket) Progressive handicap debutant who beat all bar a well-regarded subsequent winner last time and who should further improve for the step up to a mile.

Next best

Boychuk (4.25 Ffos Las) Showed something of the real promise of his novice days when taking a good field apart at Cheltenham in April after a break and is one of the few racing off his correct mark today.

One to watch

Fourth on his debut in a good juvenile maiden at York last week, Hanson'd (Kevin Ryan) gave the impression that easier ground would suit. The son of Pivotal, who holds some fancy late-season entries, looks a smart performer in the making.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Sabre Hongrois (2.45 Ffos Las).