Ten-day bans for riders in Sedgefield flag fiasco

Void Race

Official on the inside of the course waves the incorrect yellow flag

JOCKEYS involved in the voided race at Sedgefield have each been hit with ten-day bans after failing to react to an erroneous flag waved by a course official.

Stewards had given permission for fence three at the top of the hill to be bypassed due to low sun and the runners were waved around the obstacle by the flagman in the middle of the track.

However, the flagman had incorrectly raised and waved the yellow void race flag instead of the black and white chequered bypass obstacle flag. He rectified his mistake on the second circuit with the runners continuing but the race was declared void by the stewards.

Despite the mistake by the official, the stewards punished the riders involved stating they should have paid attention to the yellow flag and pulled up even though it was brandished in error.

Stipendiary steward Robert Earnshaw said: “Rule 48 states that when a yellow flag is waved, each rider who has not passed the flag must pull up, and that the race shall be void.

“With the sun shining across the track we bypassed the fence at the top of the hill. They were in the back straight when they saw the flag, with the sun on their left, so visibility wouldn’t have been an issue. The riders have said they didn’t check the colour of the flag because they presumed it would be the chequered one for the omitted fence.

“They should have checked the flag, and they have to pull up if it’s yellow flag.

“We will be holding a further inquiry to ascertain exactly how the mistake was made.”

Michael McAlister, one of the seven riders banned, acted as spokesman for the group and said although visibility was poor he heard the whistle being blown but failed to check the colour of the flag.

Debt To Society (4-1) defeated Apache Pilot (13-8f) in a tight finish which featured ‘winning’ jockey Harry Challoner briefly losing an iron during the race.

Challoner vented his fury on Twitter writing: “What a joke. Yet again someone else’s mistake yet owners, trainers and jockeys are punished the most!”

Arena Racing Company, owner of Sedgefield, has stated it will pay the prize-money for the first four home and make additional £200 payments to the other connections due to the “human error” involved.

The bans picked up by the jockeys will take effect on Tuesday, December 9 and will run through to Thursday, December 18 2014. Paul Struthers, chief executive of the PJA, confirmed they will be considering an appeal.

Struthers tweeted: “We will consider appeals for jocks involved at #Sedgefield today. Decision not needed until Thurs but ten days in circumstances is ridiculous.”

Bookmakers Ladbrokes, bet365, BetVictor, Betfair, Boylesports, Paddy Power, Coral, Betfred, William Hill and Sky Bet are paying out winning bets for the race and voiding all losing bets.


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