Within the last week, a post was encountered on Facebook, where a mother was expressing her joy at her son partnering his first winner as a jockey. Now read on…
The first time anybody achieves something is rightly big news. To the person who achieves the breakthrough, it justifies the self belief and effort expended towards arriving at that point. For their family and supporters, the second point is equally as applicable. As a knock on effect, from the perspective of the protagonist, a big deal being made about it should be a good thing.
Alexander Thorne might not agree. The young rider notched the biggest win of his career a few weeks back aboard the Noel Williams-trained Twin Star at Taunton but was later disqualified having failed to weigh in having been delayed engaging in an interview with Luke Harvey – on duty at the venue for ITV Racing.
Several thoughts abound here. Firstly, absolutely no blame can be apportioned to either Thorne or Harvey. Yes, riders are obliged to weigh in, however, given the significance of the win for the rider – and trainer – the 21-day suspension imposed upon Thorne seems unduly excessive. After all, Harvey was only doing his job, likewise the rider in fulfilling what are presumably considered media obligations, Given the extent to which racing – like most professional sports – are now dependent on media money for survival.
Thus, as the immensely likable Dave Yates of the Daily Mirror said “We can’t be seen to be setting a trap for jockeys”. Things are tough enough for the sport in the current climate (Cheltenham, anybody?) without the sport tripping itself up.
Surely it is simply an issue to be resolved between the BHA, the racecourses and the media outlets. One very simply rectified, you’d think, by a simple stipulation that riders must weigh in prior to dealing with the press. But then, doing the simple thing might put some people out of their jobs. Not doing so could put an entire industry in a further state of jeopardy.