PJA pledges support to Dwyer
PJA boss Paul Struthers will ask the BHA not to reciprocate the controversial eight-month ban handed to Martin Dwyer.
The Professional Jockeys Association chief executive will make the request to the British Horseracing Authority once all lines of appeal in India have been exhausted.
The Derby-winning jockey was initially given a suspension of nearly two months earlier this year after he finished a narrow third on market leader Ice Age in Division One of the Ice Magic Plate at Mahalaxmi racecourse in Mumbai on February 17, a ride that prompted an angry response from racegoers.
However the head-on video of the race appeared to show that Ice Age was, to some extent, his own worst enemy as he drifted towards the rail in the closing stages, bumping the eventual runner-up and causing Dwyer to snatch up his mount.
Dwyer contested the initial length of the ban at an appeal hearing but the process has proved difficult to follow, with a meeting due to take place June cancelled, and the jockey said that news on Monday evening that the ban had been extended to eight months had come out of the blue.
"I was shocked enough, but nowhere near as shocked as Martin was," Struthers told At The Races.
"We've said all along in our view the video speaks for itself.
"He had his appeal and it was a very fair hearing and then it went back to the stewards.
"Martin heard yesterday afternoon that they had not just not upheld his ban, they've actually increased it to eight months. Staggering is not the word really.
"What this effectively was was a rehearing and when that happens there is always a chance the punishment could increase, but the bottom line was there was no new evidence presented so they were going solely by the video.
"We thought very strongly that the video spoke for itself and the worst Martin was guilty of was careless or reckless or dangerous riding at its absolute worst.
"He's got a right of appeal for this hearing so he has to go through that process because in order for the British Horseracing Authority not to reciprocate the ban, he has to exhaust his options in India first.
"He's got 72 hours to get that appeal in, which he will. We still haven't seen the written reasons for the decision, Martin's spokesperson in India is waiting to receive those so he can share them with Martin.
"We've been aware of this situation since day one, so we are prepared and ready to make an application to the BHA not to reciprocate when that time arrives.
"We can advise a little bit to our members with regards to India, but we are far from experts on the Indian rules. They are not allowed legal representation in India but we understand his spokesperson is very highly respected.
"It's surprising and disappointing. People have been asking the PJA whether we will advise jockeys not to go out to India this winter, but I don't think that will be the case. They are aware of the risks following what happened with Richard Hughes (who was banned for 50 days last year, a suspension that was reciprocated by the BHA).
"While there are similarities between the cases, there are also enough differences to give us hope for an appeal and on any application to the BHA.
"The irony is the guys can go over to India in the winter and earn as much money as some of them earn in the summer, let alone in the winter.
"We find it worrying that India do not sign up to all of the international agreement yet still expect the same levels of reciprocation that every other authority gets throughout the world.
"Anything other than a finding of careless riding and we'd almost certainly put in an application to the BHA.
"The irony is that the accusation is that he wasn't trying, but in my view the problems arose because he was trying desperately hard to win a race with a horse that had bled five days before and hadn't left its box for the five days in between. Unfortunately the trainer, from what I understand, has a rather long disciplinary record.
"Your heart goes out to Martin because it's horrible for him and his family to have to go through this and it could be up to two months before his appeal is heard. Hopefully it will be quicker than that."