Fox gains unfortunate double first

Apprentice jockey Kieren Fox has suffered an unfortunate double first after becoming the first person to be referred to the British Horseracing Authority following the latest tweak in March to the rules governing use of the whip.

Last October he became the first jockey to fall foul of the new rules on the day they came into operation when he was riding at Salisbury. Yesterday he had the misfortune to have his name submitted on the totting up procedure after collecting his fourth ban of seven days or more during the last six months. That means an automatic referral, and the certainty of a long spell on the sidelines.

Fox was found to have hit his mount Salient 13 times in a race at Brighton, which left the stewards with no discretion in the action they took. Fox accepted the inevitable, but with Salient being only his second ride in a fortnight, was clearly frustrated that he has had so few opportunities to practice his technique. He said, “I don’t know what I can say, but I’m clearly heading for another lengthy ban. It’s so hard though, and it’s harder still when you are not riding regularly. That was only my second ride in nearly two weeks. When you are riding so little and you think you have half a chance you try too hard. I’m just trying to do well.”

He’ll appear before the disciplinary panel shortly. The entry point for his offence is three months, but they could suspend him for up to six months. There was a crumb of comfort from Robin Mounsey, spokesman for the BHA, who said “if there are mitigating circumstances it (the ban) could be reduced to two months.”

Fox has undergone some training in recent weeks with Mick Fitzgerald, which appeared to have brought about considerable improvement in his technique, but that all fell apart under the additional pressure of a race. Nevertheless, Fox will be hoping that the BHA recognise he is taking advice and training voluntarily with a view to doing better.