Apprentice jockeys learn their lesson

Jacob Butterfield - a hard lesson at Windsor

Two apprentice jockeys suspended on Monday after the first race in this season’s Racing Excellence apprentice training series have had their bans rescinded by the British Horseracing Authority.

The series provides young jockeys with the opportunity to develop core skills and values such as professionalism, horsemanship and sportsmanship. But in doing so there are additional rules governing their use of the whip, which they can only wave or use in the backhand position.

After the Windsor stewards had reached their decision the two jockeys involved, Jacob Butterfield and Ian Burns claimed that they were unaware of the specific rules applying in this set of races. Butterfield is apprenticed to the Ollie Pears stable in Malton. He said, “I thought it was just an ordinary race, nobody mentioned to me I could only use the whip in the backhand position and I was shocked when the stewards told me.”

Burns had a similar view, saying, “We weren’t aware of the rules because nobody told us.” Former jockey John Reid, now one of the Jockey Coaches at the National Racing School who was on duty at Windsor on Monday evening, backed up their view. He admitted to being confused by the rules surrounding the Racing Excellence series.

Consequently, the BHA quickly set up an enquiry into the whole situation. Their report said, “Having discussed the incident with the riders, officials and Jockey Coach in attendance on the day it was decided to quash the suspensions received by both jockeys and expunge the incidents from their Apprentice Training Series records as it became apparent that not all the jockeys were aware of the particular conditions which apply in the series.”

That cleared Burns entirely, but Butterfield was given a further suspension of nine days for excessive use of the whip on Gracie’s Games. This stands, and he acknowledged it was right that it should, saying he had “a rush of blood” in the heat of the race.

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