Given its draconian treatment of Kieren Fallon, when he was falsely accused of criminal conduct, some might consider the British Horseracing Authority to have been fairly indulgent in its punishment of the racehorse owner who violently assaulted the former champion jockey at Lingfield 10 days ago. David Reynolds was yesterday banned from all racing premises for just three months.
He was, however, also given a heavy fine. Even people who buy racehorses, after all, are liable to smart over the loss of £10,000. But the BHA disciplinary panel could have "warned off" Reynolds for up to three years after finding him guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute, and also of violent conduct. Certainly, the BHA chose no half-measures when suspending Fallon's licence in 2006, after he was charged with a conspiracy that would eventually be laughed out of the Old Bailey.
Reynolds can presumably count himself fortunate there were no police at Lingfield. Fallon was punched in the unsaddling enclosure, after a race in which The Scorching Wind had started favourite. Reynolds, who part-owns The Scorching Wind, blamed Fallon's riding of Elna Bright for what was evidently an expensive defeat.
Reynolds, 45, issued a statement through his solicitor. "I deeply regret what happened at Lingfield," the construction boss said. "I have apologised to Kieren Fallon, and everybody involved in the incident, and now wish to put this matter behind me."
Paul Struthers, the BHA spokesman, insisted that the disgraceful episode had been dealt with proportionately. "The entry point penalty for violent conduct toward an official is a fine of £5,000 or a disqualification of three months," he explained. "So the panel has gone above the entry point by disqualifying Mr Reynolds for that period and, in addition to that ban, fining him £10,000."
The restraint of Fallon's own response, meanwhile, can be taken as encouraging evidence of his focused state of mind as he begins his quest for that seventh jockeys' title. Yesterday he opened his account for the campaign with a double at Wolverhampton, a rather different environment from the one in which he met such frustration on Saturday. Fallon and Gitano Hernando were thwarted by a slow pace in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan, trapped on the inside and never nearer than at the line, beaten barely two lengths in sixth.
"I was going half-speed all the way," Fallon complained yesterday. "I was trying to angle out, but couldn't move with the two in front of me dictating their own pace. I have always thought a lot of him and if there had been a gallop, or if I could have gone when I wanted, he would have opened up."
Gitano Hernando's trainer, Marco Botti, will now proceed towards the elite middle-distance programme in Europe. "He's come out of the race in good order," Botti said. "Unfortunately, his low draw turned out to be a disadvantage. When he did get going, he stayed on well. It's disappointing, but at least he proved he is capable of competing at the top level. We have a few options for him now, with races like the Prince Of Wales's Stakes, the Juddmonte International and Eclipse Stakes to look at in the summer. The Arc is also something I mentioned to the owners. If we go to Royal Ascot, he will probably go straight there now as I want to freshen him up."
Turf account: Chris McGrath
The Rustlin Rhino (2.25 Newcastle)
Half-brother to a National winner in Silver Birch and seems sure to relish this test of stamina after earning a modest rating in three spins over shorter distances, hinting at ability in midfield finishes.
Beidh Tine Anseo (4.50 Newcastle)
Well treated on his Flat form and showed he is getting his act together over hurdles when third on his handicap debut at Ayr last time.
One to watch
Tartak (T R George) has disappointed this season but showed renewed life when fifth in the Johnny Henderson at Cheltenham.
*Where the money's going
News that Tony McCoy is likely to ride Can't Buy Time in his quest for a first John Smith's Grand National saw the horse supported from 25-1 to 20-1 with Coral.
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