The one-month ban imposed on visiting Irish jockey Richard Hughes by the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) stewards for "foul riding" was lifted by the Appeal Board of the club in a meeting held at the Mahalaxmi racecourse yesterday. After hearing out Richard and his spokesman, trainer Ivor Fernandes, the Appeal Board struck down the charge of "foul riding", but held Richard guilty of a lesser charge of "improper riding", and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh for the offence.
It may be noted that during the Morellato Gitanjali Lifestyle Million race held on New Year's day, Hughes astride Star Trainer had elbowed jockey S Zervan on Elizabeth soon after the start. The stewards held Hughes guilty of "foul riding" and disqualified his horse that had finished second to winner Ancient Wonder, and banned him from riding for a month meaning the foreigner would miss both the Indian Oaks (Jan 22) and Indian Derby (Feb 5). Hughes had claimed he acted in self defence, and minced no words while expressing his thoughts on the decision. On his twitter account he said: "Just got a month ban in India for self defence. They say I should have taken a check rather than hold my position.... barmy...".
Barmy is a British slang for insane or crazy or stupid. Richard appealed against the decision and the hearing was yesterday. "We put up the same evidence that was before the stewards," trainer Fernandes, told MiD DAY. "Only, we got it digitised, so every minute movement could be seen clearly and showed (them) who was the aggressor, really."
Noted legal luminary Satish Maneshinde, who was on the Appeal Board panel along with Kumar Dalal and former chief stipe D N Adenwalla, told
MiD DAY: "The decision was unanimous. We came to the conclusion it was a case of improper riding rather than foul riding, and accordingly, have slapped a fine on him, and revoked the suspension." Vivek Jain, RWITC chairman, refused to comment on the development.
Hughes will now ride the Indian 1000 Guineas winner Alma Mater in the Indian Oaks (Gr 1) tomorrow at Mahalaxmi, and is also expected to ride Hills And Stars in the Indian Derby on Sunday, February 5.