PAT HEALY: This week Pat shares his frustration at jockeys being handed suspensions over fines
Jockeys, stewards, and controversy
I’ve touched on it before in this blog. Personally, I think it’s a joke. It is outdated and it shouldn’t be the case that jockeys are suspended for race days in my opinion. Hit them where it hurts, and it hurts in the pocket. I’ve known jockeys all my life and I’ve known jockeys that would survive in the Sahara Desert, one or two are so frugal with money and money is their god. What I’m saying is that what Christophe [Soumillon] has done is wrong, but to me it was just an accident, and he didn’t intend to do it. It wasn’t part of the race riding, because it was after the race finished. It was after the winning post and he was celebrating, he is entitled to celebrate, it was a Group One race. But I think banning Christophe for 12 days is a joke and I would’ve fined him 30,000 euro instead. Fine him big, hit him big. Whether it’s a maiden Hurdle at Listowel or the Epsom Derby, jockeys are always going to break the rules because they know they’re going to get away with it.
In my mind big fines are more of a deterrent than giving them a couple days of holiday. I can’t believe the Haydock fiasco and that’s what it was, a fiasco. Jim Crowley was off the rail and there was enough room for Rab Havlin to want to go there, and if he didn’t go there, he wouldn’t be a jockey, that’s what jockeys are supposed to do. They ride on instinct; they ride on split second decisions because when it comes to the winning line that’s the difference between a short head of winning or being beaten. The whole decision-making process by the stewards was a joke.
We are in a day and age now where there should be professional stewards. There is no reason why you can’t have professional stewards based at the BHA or IHRB, they can be in contact with the track via Zoom and have access to camera angles from everywhere. It is time for professional stewards to be in charge that understand what it is like to be a jockey, that understand race riding, that understand the dangers and that understand the chances that are taken. We are all involved in a multi-billion-euro industry and there’s stuff being done week in and week out that belongs in the 1890’s. But I do believe suspending Soumillon or any jockey for 12 days is wrong, fine him 30,000 euro instead. Fine them and you can guarantee they won’t make that ‘mistake’ again.
Kerry v Dublin
It’s the All-Ireland Semi-Final, and I will be there at the match at Croke Park. It’s going to be a huge day, it will be a full house of 80,000 people, and it’s always a fantastic occasion. We haven’t beaten Dublin in a championship match since 2009, so obviously we are hoping to get the monkey off our backs on Sunday and I wish the Kerry team all the best. Please God we get one over the Dub’s and get to the All-Ireland Final on July 24th.