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Young jockeys hit hard for mistake

By Keith Hamer

Young amateur rider Jake Launchbury was banned for 21 days and Page Fuller for 10 days after a dramatic conclusion to the Annual "Hands And Heels" Handicap Chase at Ludlow.

David Bridgwater's Bally Sands looked to have the race in the bag for Launchbury, who was having just his fourth ride under Rules.

However, he appeared set to go the wrong side of the final fence before Launchbury corrected his path very late, and nearly knocked over the Fuller-ridden Petit Ecuyer.

Having lost momentum he had no answer when Martin Keighley's Always Bold (12-1) and Conor Smith jumped to the front with Kings Apollo second.

The stewards found the riders were "negligent, in that by initially attempting to bypass the final fence, they had failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout the race to obtain their best possible placing".

Launchbury was suspended for 21 days, as the stewards considered that if he had ridden the most direct course he would have won the race.

Fuller was handed 10 days because the officials considered her actions could have materially affected her finishing position.

Bridgwater said: "Jake hasn't taken the wrong course, ultimately.

"The lad is only 16 and looked like he was going to ride his first winner, so he's a bit upset.

"I'm a bit upset, not because I've missed out on a winner, but because Jake and the young girl have been given very long bans and in their world they might not ride again for three months. She was the innocent victim, if anything.

"This was his Gold Cup, it's been the plan for a long time, but that is secondary to me. He didn't take the wrong course and I just feel very sorry for him. He feels bad enough as it is and the ban is just another kick in the nether regions.

"He walked the course with an official beforehand, but maybe I should have walked it with him."

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