The depressing end of a long riding career may have been hastened yesterday when Dean McKeown was found in breach of the "non-triers" rule at Southwell. It is hard to believe that the veteran could provoke trouble so soon after being issued with a four-year ban by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). McKeown was able to ride pending receipt from the BHA of explanations for its verdict, after a hearing into corruption charges. He would then have seven days to appeal, but this transgression means he has forfeited the privilege of riding in the meantime "to protect the integrity of racing".
After steering Rascal In The Mix to fifth, McKeown told the stewards that his mount was slowly away and resented the kickback. He said that she could have finished no closer under a more vigorous ride, and her trainer, Richard Whitaker, expressed satisfaction with McKeown's ride. Whitaker too, was referred to the BHA.
At least racing sometimes provides a way back for those who seem to have reached the end of the road. Ashley Brook, who completed only once last season, showed his old gusto to win the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. Twist Magic, the favourite, in contrast dropped away quickly turning in, but there were impressive novice wins for Paul Nicholls by Mahonia and Oumeyade. Poignantly, both carried the Jim Lewis colours of Best Mate, who collapsed and died at the same meeting three years previously.