Jockeys banned after Sedgefield flag drama

Drama at Sedgefield saw the Compare Bookies Odds At Handicap Chase declared void due to an incorrect flag being deployed, with all the riders in the race handed 10-day bans.

All was seemingly well during the marathon three-miles-three-furlong contest as Richard Ford’s Debt To Society held off the favourite Apache Pilot by a neck.

However, a stewards’ inquiry was then called and the race was later voided.

The incident revolved around the wrong colour flag being waved before the runners bypassed a fence omitted due to the low sun.

A yellow flag – meaning a void race – was raised instead of a black and white chequered flag on the first circuit. By the time the runners passed the same fence on the second circuit the correct flag was in use.

A frustrated Ford said: “It is quite a bizarre set of circumstances, but surely it didn’t affect the result.

“The stewards are guided by the rules. As I understand it the fence was bypassed because of low sun and a chequered flag should have been raised.

“The flagman actually waved a yellow flag – which means stop the race – by mistake but because of the low sun the jockeys couldn’t really tell which flag he was waving anyway.

“He waved the correct flag on the second circuit but they all carried on and the result was in no way affected.

“I’m disappointed for his owner because it is the not the fault of the jockeys. As I understand it all the jockeys are getting 10-day bans, too. It seems very harsh. The double whammy would be if he goes up in the handicap.”

All bets were refunded, although Paddy Power, William Hill and totesport paid out on Debt To Society as a winner while they voided all losing bets on the race.

The riders were all interviewed by the stewards, along with the fence attendant and the clerk of the course, Sophie Barton.

The stewards report said Michael McAlister, who rode Apache Pilot, acted as spokesman for the riders and stated that they knew fence three was going to be bypassed. He added visibility was poor and they heard the whistle being blown but did not check the colour of the flag.

Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race the stewards found all the riders in breach of Rule (B)48.1 and guilty of failing to pull up once the ’stop race’ flag had been deployed.


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