Two jockeys suspended for unsatisfactory riding

Updated: Feb 18, 2020, 07:56 IST | Prakash Gosavi | Mumbai

Sandesh copped punishment for his ride on favourite Noble Heir (race #115) who finished sixth in the Gateway Of India Million (1600m).

This picture has been used for representation purpose
This picture has been used for representation purpose

Two top jockeys, Indian A Sandesh and Irishman Leigh Roche, have received severe punishments for "unsatisfactory riding". The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) stewards, in a meeting on Sunday, barred both jockeys from riding for 12 race days from March 5 to April 12. Both jockeys were held guilty for their rides on the same card (Saturday, February 1).

Sandesh copped punishment for his ride on favourite Noble Heir (race #115) who finished sixth in the Gateway Of India Million (1600m). The stipendiary stewards, after a detailed inquiry, had reported Sandesh to the stewards of the club only for "unsatisfactory riding", making it clear that they were giving him the benefit of doubt in the more serious charge of "not permitting his mount to run on its merit".

Eye on milestone

Interestingly, on the fateful day, Sandesh, who was looking forward to achieve a career milestone of 1,000 wins during the Derby weekend, had ridden two back-to-back winners (Tasman and Golden Era) in the first two races, giving him win numbers 998 and 999. Noble Heir trained by Vishal Gaekwad, was his mount in the third race, and it was widely expected that Sandesh would complete his 1,000 wins and hat-trick for the day astride the favourite. However, Sandesh finally rode his 1,000th winner astride the Imtiaz Sait-trained Flying Visit the next day (Sunday, February 2), and in an impromptu ceremony, was felicitated by the RWITC management in front of the Derby crowd.

A vague reply

The report published on the race club's website says: "When trainer Vishal Gaikwad was specifically asked during the Stewards Meeting whether he was satisfied with the jockey's [Sandesh] riding, he initially tried to evade the question by giving a vague reply, and then agreed that the jockey could have been more aggressive to take the gaps." The stewards felt that the jockey would not have ridden in this manner unless he had the trainer's tacit approval, and fined him a record sum of Rs 1 lakh.

Jockey Roche was also held guilty of unsatisfactory riding after it was established in the inquiry that he had failed to follow trainer P Shroff's instructions while riding Valegro (race #117) in the Ebco Livsmart Million (1400m). Shroff had complained about Roche's handling of Valegro after the race. Roche, 27, has been visiting India to ride for trainer Shroff for the last couple of seasons.

Both jockeys have the right to appeal against the decision with RWITC's board of appeal (BoA).

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