An error in judgement by Darragh Keenan in the heat of the moment has cost him a 10-day ban under a rarely-used rule.
The talented young jockey, who has nearly ridden out his claim at the age of 20 with 87 winners in four years riding, was trying to make it three wins in a row on hot favourite Rohaan when making his costly mistake at Lingfield on January 2.
Rohaan, racing for the fourth time in a month, ended up being beaten a length and three-quarters by market rival Bravado after finishing fast in a five-runner handicap over six furlongs.
Keenan had wanted to track the winner, feeling he was the only danger in a field of five, but trainer David Evans told him to ride him the same way he had done in their previous two wins together, namely from off the pace.
The local stewards originally handed him a 14-day ban for what was described as “a serious misjudgement” but Keenan appealed on Thursday to an independent disciplinary panel which upheld the riding offence but reduced his ban to 10 days.
Keenan’s mistake boiled down to leaving his challenge until too late, something that riders in the stands and betting shop punters allege almost on a daily basis.
Stewards rarely make such a subjective judgement with Keenan’s solicitor Rory Mac Neice suggesting it was a first and raised concerns over defining ‘serious’ and the burden of proving it.
The BHA later pointed out there had been at least three other cases over the past 15 years.
The panel heard that Rohaan, a young horse making a meteoric rise up the ranks having officially improved 30lb from a rating of 55 in his previous three runs, put in his career best in defeat.
The BHA handicapper has agreed in raising him another 5lb since but Rohaan has not run again.
This career best was despite Rohaan being found to be slightly lame post-race on two legs by the officiating BHA vet, who told the stewards it may have affected his performance. The vet had also been asked to check Rohaan before the race after a bandage had been applied too tightly overnight and cleared the three-year-old to run despite some swelling.
Keenan told the inquiry with the benefit of hindsight he would have made his effort earlier but still felt Rohaan had not picked up like he had done under him previously.
The panel confirmed the serious misjudgement after watching all four of Rohaan’s races with chairman William Norris QC saying: “You let the winner get first run on you and didn’t make sufficient effort in time.
“We recognise the horse didn’t find as much as you expected, nevertheless you left it too late and when you asked for an effort the horse did pick up.”
However, in reducing the ban, Norris added: “We are not satisfied the horse would have won if ridden differently.”
Ben Godfrey will remember riding out his 7lb claim with a first treble, teaming up with his boss Anthony Honeyball at Fontwell, which survived all the weather could throw at it.
Not so fortunate was Huntingdon, which was flooded again ahead of Friday’s meeting, joining Sedgefield in abandonment, leaving only Flat racing at Southwell and Newcastle. Jump racing at Lingfield (Monday) and Newcastle (Wednesday), have already succumbed next week.