A second jockey joined champion rider Kieren Fallon on suspension today after both men were judged to have broken racing rules.
Sean Fox was suspended for 21 days by the stewards at Fontwell Park after being unseated from Ice Saint in a beginners’ chase.
Fallon was also given a 21-day suspension by the Jockey Club after a stewards’ ruling that he had failed to properly push his horse, Ballinger Ridge, to the finish line at Surrey’s Lingfield racecourse last week.
His lawyer, Christopher Stewart-Moore, said the ban for “non-wilful” breach of riding rules had been agreed to by the jockey.
As a separate investigation continued into “unusual betting” patterns before the race, the Jockey Club dismissed further allegations that it was currently investigating a widespread “betting scam” among jockeys.
But after hearing about his ban, Fox said: “I have been tarred with the same brush as Kieren Fallon.”
An inquiry was held into the running and riding of Ice Saint, who drifted both on course and on the betting exchanges, after Fox came off at the ninth fence in the Cantor Sport Beginners’ Chase.
The stewards found the rider in breach of rule 157, in that he had stepped off his horse and suspended him from March 19 through to April 8.
Rule 157 states it is an offence for a jockey to fail to take all reasonable measures to obtain the best possible placing “with the intention of concealing the true ability of the horse or affecting the result of the race”.
After hearing the judgement, Fox said: “If they think I am mad enough to jump off at about 30mph, they must be barmy.”
When he came out of the stewards’ room for the first time, he said: “It was the horse’s first time over fences, and to say that he is a dodgy jumper is an understatement. I had never ridden him before.
“At the fence I went at, he caught his legs on it and there was no staying on.
“I ride confidently, with just my toes in the irons, so I suppose it could be said it was my fault. To me, it happened so quick and my left foot came out of the stirrup.”
The race was won by the 15-8 favourite, Honneur Fontenail.
Meanwhile, Fallon’s 21-day ban was agreed at the racing regulator’s monthly meeting, according to Mr Stewart-Moore.
He said: “We have now made formal admission of a breach and it is called non-wilful breach of rule 156, which I think is not riding a horse out to the finish line.
“He is in the country and he sounded well and he is ready to deal with the Jockey Club inquiry.”
Fallon flew back into Britain from Malaga today and was immediately involved in a fracas with the media at Stansted Airport.
He made a dash to the airport exit and a waiting car to get away from a scrum of reporters, press photographers and TV crews.
Fallon’s agent, David Pollington, said after being told of the suspension: “That is the maximum and that is what was expected, absolutely. End of story.”
He said he had spoken to the jockey and he seemed “OK”.
In a statement, the Jockey Club said: “The Panel considered a written statement from Fallon’s legal representative which included an admission of a breach of Rule 156 (i).
“The statement also acknowledged that acceptance of this admission by the Disciplinary Panel would not preclude the Stewards of the Jockey Club from subsequently inquiring into the matter further and/or bringing additional further charges against Fallon arising out of his riding in this race on completion of further investigations if thought fit.
“Having watched a video of the race, the Panel accepted Fallon’s admission that he was in breach of Rule 156 (i). It imposed a suspension of 21 days and adjourned the inquiry generally.”
A breach of Rule 156(i) occurs if the rider has failed to obtain the best possible placing by failing to ride out approaching the finish by dropping hands.
Fallon’s suspension is due to start on Tuesday March 16 and runs until Thursday, April 8 on days on which flat racing is scheduled to take place.
Fallon was heavily criticised after his horse came second despite leading most of the way at Lingfield.
The controversy deepened yesterday after claims surfaced in The News Of The World that Fallon told undercover reporters before the race that he would lose and that Rye – the horse that overtook Ballinger Ridge – would triumph.
The newspaper alleged Fallon told its team of undercover reporters: “I’m actually down as the favourite. It’s not very good. The horse of Jamie Osborne’s going to win the race. A horse called Rye.”
The paper also claimed Fallon – the UK’s champion jockey for six out of the past seven years – gave his opinion on other races during a meeting with reporters on Friday but “declined a cash payment” for such information.
“If you are on this, then there are no limits to the bets. It’s not illegal for you, it’s illegal for us. As long as you don’t give me money,” Fallon was quoted as saying.
Fallon’s lawyer told the newspaper that his client had merely offered advice to people whom the jockey had been led to believe were members of the public.
“As many jockeys do on TV on a daily basis, he gave them his views as to the chances of horses he was riding,” he said.
“These opinions were based on external factors which could affect their chances. He received no money for this and the way he rode the horses was in no way influenced by the information he had imparted.”
A Jockey Club spokesman yesterday said it would interview Fallon over the new allegations as part of its investigation into unusual betting patterns.
Voluntary agreements between the Jockey Club and some betting organisations exist where information on irregular bets can be passed to the regulator quickly.
However, this only involves a handful of firms including Betfair – the company which raised concerns about gambling patterns before the Lingfield race.
A spokesman for Betfair confirmed that as part of its agreement with The Jockey Club, information on account holders who had placed bets on the race had been handed over – as was normal practice.
Last week Fallon, speaking in the Daily Mirror, said of the controversial race: “I read there were suspicious betting patterns, but I can assure anyone who thinks I’m linked with that sort of thing that they’re barking up the wrong tree.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that it would be following the Jockey Club probe.
“We await the outcome with interest,” she said. “Maintaining the integrity of horse racing is vital for the sport.”