Martin Dwyer’s eight-month nightmare is over. In February the Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC) slapped a 56-day ban on Dwyer, after he was beaten on hot favourite Ice Age at Mahalaxmi racecourse. During the race, the horse bled. Since then, he has engaged on a series of appeals in an effort to clear his name, travelling back to India more than once.
Yesterday the British Horseracing Authority announced that it would not reciprocate the ban here, and that as far as the jockey was concerned, the matter was completely closed. The normal practice is for a suspension imposed in one country to be reciprocated throughout the world, but not on this occasion.
Setting out its reasons for such an unusual course of action in a statement, Jamie Stier from the BHA said, “As signatories to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ International Agreement, the BHA’s starting point is to recognise the principle of reciprocation of penalties incurred by British riders abroad. However, this is in the expectation the individual is afforded the tenets of natural justice.
In this particular case, it was our view that these basic principles were not upheld by the RWITC and this was reflected in the BHA's presentation to the Disciplinary Panel. Consequently, the BHA supports the decision of the Disciplinary Panel not to reciprocate the suspension imposed by the RWITC on Martin Dwyer.
It was the BHA's view that there were a number of areas during the process which fell short of being demonstrably fair and were not in accordance with the principles of natural justice. One such example being the decision of the RWITC stewards to make a finding that Ice Age had not been run on her merits and declare her a non-runner, before conducting an enquiry and hearing from Martin Dwyer.”
The BHA said it would be writing to the RWITC about its concerns.
Dwyer was understandably thrilled with the decision, and in his comments he particularly acknowledged the support he had received from people throughout the racing fraternity. He said, “I’m relieved it’s over and delighted at the result and that I can walk away with my reputation intact. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s been difficult because it has been hanging over me for so long, with my future in the hands of other people who were playing by their rules.
Fighting this has cost me more than if I’d had a two-month suspension here, but I couldn’t take it lying down and kept fighting to clear my name. There were times when I wondered if it was worth it, but the support from everyone kept me going. I remember walking into Warwick one wet Monday for a couple of rides and a racegoer came up to me and said he hoped I won the fight. It was quite humbling.”
He went on to say that the incident had soured what had been enjoyable times riding in India, and that it was unlikely that he would do so again.