His punishment is six days longer than the one handed out last year to Richard Hughes after he was caught out by a clause that doesn’t appear in the rules of racing here in the UK. Despite that, Hughes had to sit out his punishment at home, and could not start riding until two months into the season.
Dwyer seems likely to suffer the same fate. The stewards in India took issue with his riding of Ice Age, a beaten favourite in a race at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi racecourse on 17 February (20 Feb Ice Age frozen out as Dwyer faces Indian lynch mob). Following the race, police had to be called in to keep order amongst a crowd that threatened to riot, and Dwyer driven away from the track hidden in the back of a car.
The jockey went back to India for the hearing last week, and said afterwards, "This is unbelievable, and I'm shocked and a bit numb about it all. I’m going to file an appeal against the decision and I will go through every possible course of action to lift the ban before I come home. The suspension starts on April 6 and I can ride until the appeal is heard, which could take anything up to 15 days.2
Dwyer could, in fact, have two appeals, first to the Indian authorities, and secondly to the British Horseracing Authority. His case is that Ice Age was not moving properly and had suffered a nosebleed during the race. Dwyer went on, “The vets report confirmed that the horse broke a blood vessel and I dismounted as soon as we passed the post. I even had blood on me in the inquiry on the day.”
If the appeal is unsuccessful, Dwyer will have to wait and see if the Indian authorities take the same course as they did with Hughes and ask for the ban to be reciprocated by the BHA. Robin Mounsey, from the BHA, explained how they would treat things. He said, “When a suspension in imposed on a rider by an international authority, the home jurisdiction would first wait to be requested by the relevant racing authority regarding any suspensions, and subsequently how they would expect the suspension to be reciprocated in our jurisdiction.”
Only then would Dwyer be able to appeal to the BHA not to uphold the request from the RWITC, when he would have to show that the process followed in India did not comply with laws of natural justice.
That, according to Professional Jockeys’ Association chief executive Paul Struthers, was pretty self evident, and he said that he would certainly support an appeal from Dwyer to the BHA. He said that the head on replay of the race showed that the Indian authorities had reached “an entirely unjust and perverse decision” and that Dwyer was “entirely innocent of the charges.”
The ban is scheduled to run from 6 April to 31 May, which if it were upheld, would rule Dwyer out of the ride on his father-in-law William Muir’s Purr Along, who is entered for both the 1,000 Guineas and the Investec Oaks. It probably wasn’t just family loyalty that led the trainer to brand the decision a joke.