Fairley ban brings warning to jockeys to protect sport

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PROFESSIONAL Jockeys Association chief executive Kevin Darley has urged his members to protect the sport’s “integrity” following the latest race-fixing scandal.

North Yorkshire rider Greg Fairley, a former champion apprentice, was banned for 12 years for his part in a controversy that saw the British Horseracing Authority convict 11 people – including four jockeys – of various offences.

“It’s disappointing for the sport,” said Yorkshire-based Darley, the 2000 champion jockey and whose big-race triumphs around the world include the St Leger.

“The PJA takes the strong view that integrity is vital to the sport of horseracing and the Association will continue to support the BHA in carrying out that function.

“Jockeys are very personable people, when they walk to the paddock they are exposed to everybody and you can literally be talking to anybody and everybody.

“If the wrong connection is made and you meet someone and they are the wrong type of person, it can be through total naivety they get associated with people they shouldn’t.

“We profess as the Association ‘don’t by any means compromise your personality by not speaking to people’. I remember as a jockey myself walking into a course and the gateman would ask you for your best chance.

“You’d be personable and help the guy out, but it’s people out there who are trying to get negative information that jockeys have to be very wary about.

“Thankfully, these cases are very few and far between when you take into account how much racing we have – it’s a big industry and there’s racing nearly every day.

“Ever since the betting exchanges have been around, punters and the general public can bet on a horse to lose, which is something that is quite new to our sport and jockeys have to be wary of anyone who is trying to seek negative information.”

Malcolm Jefferson’s Cape Tribulation heads the weights for today’s Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock which will be a stamina test if the course passes an early morning inspection.

Last seen finishing a highly creditable fifth in the valuable fixed-brush hurdle at Haydock last month, former Gold Cup-winning rider Paddy Brennan is in the saddle.

Malton-based Jefferson said: “He doesn’t mind soft ground, the only worry is the weight as he does have a lot to carry. But he is a classy horse and he’s run well at Haydock before – he does like a flat track.

“He didn’t have a massive blow after his run over hurdles the other week but that was a good race and the ground was plenty quick enough. He’s in very good nick and I’m very happy with him.”

Next in the list is the Donald McCain-trained Wymott, one of the leading novices in the staying division last season and a fine sixth on his comeback in the Hennessy Gold Cup.

“He’s grand now and is in good form. I’m looking forward to running him,” said McCain.

Out of action for 616 days, Mon Mome – the shock 100-1 winner of the 2009 Grand National – returns to action today at Haydock over hurdles.

The horse has not run since falling heavily in the 2010 Aintree renewal which was famously won by AP McCoy and Don’t Push It.

With Aidan Coleman, stable jockey to trainer Venetia Williams, suspended after picking up a whip ban – ironically over the National fences a fortnight ago – Sam Thomas takes over the riding duties.

Midnight Chase remains on target for the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

Bad weather means the race has not been staged since 2008 when Nozic and Harry Skelton prevailed but trainer Neil Mulholland reports the Gold Cup fifth to be bouncing.

“He absolutely hated the soft ground at Down Royal last time out and, hopefully, we will get much better ground for him at Wetherby,” he said.

“Fingers crossed, the weather will stay fine ahead of the meeting. The horse has also shown his best form when going left-handed, so that is another reason why we plan to go to Wetherby.”