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AP McCoy slams BHA over Declan Lavery Cheltenham suspension

AP McCoy slams BHA over Declan Lavery Cheltenham suspension

AP McCoy and Nicky Henderson are among those to have criticised the BHA following the decision of the Cheltenham stewards to suspend well-known point-to-point rider Declan Lavery.

The Downpatrick native was aboard the Philip Hobbs-trained Jerrysback in the National Hunt Challenge Cup, with the pair overcoming some indifferent jumping and an incident at the 14th fence when they were badly hampered resulting in Lavery briefly losing an iron, to finish third.

The Cheltenham stewards reviewed the race, and Lavery was one of three Irish point-to-point riders to fall foul of them when he was given a ten-day suspension, as they deemed that he ‘had continued in the race when it appeared to be contrary to the horse’s welfare after tired errors at the final two fences.’

Their decision was slammed by the 20-time champion jockey AP McCoy who spoke passionately in Lavery’s defence when appearing on ITV on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m embarrassed for the BHA. Talk about bringing into disrepute. The horse finished third, Jerrysback, he got £13,000 for finishing third. I never thought at any stage that he did the wrong thing. The horse is perfectly fine this morning, the horse’s welfare is not an issue.

“What happened if the first and second horse’s had fallen. What was Declan Lavery supposed to do then?

“I have been coming to Cheltenham for 25 years. Bratt Dunshea from the BHA is obviously Australian. I don’t know what experience he has of jumps racing, they don’t have jumps racing in Australia, and they are letting people like that make decisions. It’s wrong.

“I have never seen as bad a decision in 25 years coming to Cheltenham.  It is undefendable. It is an actual disgrace.”

Champion British trainer, Nicky Henderson added his voice to those questioning the steward’s decision.

“What on earth was the jockey on the third horse meant to do? One rule says you have to ride your horse to achieve the best possible placing – but then you're banned for finishing third. In my opinion the horse wasn't exhausted. If he'd pulled up he'd surely have been fined,” he told the Racing Post.

"These are good amateur riders. They're nearly professional amateur riders. When I was riding amateurs really were amateurs. They were people with a day job who rode occasionally. Anybody could go out there and take part. They gave anyone a licence and said, 'Good on you, go out there and have a go'. I was lucky. I was riding good horses for Fred Winter, but it didn't mean I was any good.

"I know we have to look after our sport and think about the public, but I just hope they aren't going too far."

The National Hunt Chase, which is for qualified riders, is the longest-established race at the Festival having been first run in 1860, however recent BHA statements have left its future very much up in the air.

 

 


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