McCoy gears up for battle against ban
BY CHRIS McGRATH
RACINGJustin time: Justin Newman rides Pinotage to victory in the Felbridge Apprentice Handicap Stakes at Lingfield yesterday TONY McCoy and the eight other jockeys banned for failing to pull up after a race had been stopped at Wetherby last week will have their appeal heard today.
The disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority will sit to discuss the 10-day bans handed out to champion McCoy, Graham Lee, Paddy Brennan, Danny Cook, Jonathon Bewley, Denis O'Regan, Alexander Voy, Brian Hughes and Brian Toomey.
Unless overturned or reduced, the suspensions — from October 26 to November 4 — rule the jockeys out of several big races including the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.
A fatal injury to Ashburton Lad triggered groundstaff to wave the flag in a bid to get the riders to stop, which some of the jockeys claimed confused them in terms of what they were required to do.
Meanwhile, Roger Varian has already crowned an exemplary first season with his maiden Group One success, through Nahrain on Arc day, but could yet seek two more before it ends in 17 days' time.
Farraaj is on course for the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday, while the young trainer yesterday indicated that Nahrain — previously uncertain to run again this season following that breakthrough in Paris — could take her unbeaten record to the Breeders' Cup.
“She has come out of her race in France very well, and the Filly and Mare Turf is something we are considering,” Varian said yesterday.
“It's far from concrete, and we don't have to confirm until Monday, but there would be nothing in the filly herself to discourage us.”
Varian was likewise reserving the right to a late decision on Farraaj, who looked ready for an eighth furlong when second on his Group debut at Newmarket last month.
“It's a funny time of year, and we have to satisfy ourselves day by day that he remains in form,” Varian said. “But we are happy with him, and I'd hope he can run provided the going does not become too testing.”
Camelot, hot favourite for Saturday and already well backed for the Investec Derby, seems likely to be ridden by young Joseph O'Brien — as when making that impressive debut at Leopardstown in July.
Ryan Moore, who is understood to have indicated his readiness to make Ballydoyle his first commitment next year, remains retained by Sir Michael Stoute and rides one of the most promising juveniles in the yard, Tales Of Grimm, at Newbury on the same afternoon.
It is precisely this kind of situation — with their go-to jockey unavailable — that the owners of Ballydoyle wish to avoid.
But Moore has a young family and is expected to retain his Newmarket base, leaving bread-and-butter assignments in Ireland to the established stalwarts at Ballydoyle.
The shift in tempo after the Breeders' Cup is anticipated at Aintree on Saturday by a possible early sighting of Master Minded.
But jockeys under both codes meanwhile remain up in arms about the new whip regulations.
Richard Hughes, who has since refused to ride under the new regime, will have an appeal against suspension heard next week, and Christophe Soumillon will be making his case against forfeiture of the biggest prize ever won by a jockey on British soil on account of a marginal transgression at Ascot last Saturday.
Richard Whitaker was delighted the performance of Pinotage in the Felbridge Apprentice Handicap at Lingfield yesterday.
The gelding was backed into 7-1 as Justin Newman helped carry out a minor gamble.
“He's been running well but we weren't sure he'd stay a mile and a half,” said Whitaker.