Gosden offers Robert Havlin support in wake of ban

John Gosden has backed Robert Havlin in the wake of the jockey’s 21-day suspension, a ban the rider has confirmed he will not be appealing.

Havlin was riding Stowell at Lingfield, who finished fast only to narrowly fail to catch Polling Day, his stablemate, ridden by Frankie Dettori.

He was found by the stewards to have failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure Stowell obtained his best possible placing in the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Novice Stakes at the Surrey venue, in what the officials termed “an apparently tender hands and heels ride”.

Gosden, though, insists he instructs all his jockeys to avoid using the whip on his newcomers – if at all it can be avoided, and that he was happy with the ride.

“That is an instruction I always give (to not use the whip). I remember a jockey walking into the paddock to ride a two-year-old first time out once and my father took it off him,” Gosden told Racing TV.

“The reason the jockeys have them is to control them or make them concentrate, but on the whole I don’t like it being used on them first time out so he followed my instructions as he always does.

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“In terms of the suspension he could have appealed, but he’d have still had a few days off. I think what people don’t clock is how hard these jockeys work. He’s up and down the country, riding work for me at 5.30am, up to Newcastle to ride, back at 11.30pm and then up the next morning.

“He hasn’t had a day off for the guts of 20 months, this is the perfect opportunity for him to take some time off. I know his father is not very well in Scotland so he can go and see him. Take a negative and turn it into a positive.

“I was happy with the ride and it wouldn’t have bothered me if he had got up and beat the other horse as we’re not a gambling stable and neither owner of those horses is interested in betting.

“I don’t know if Rab could have won, I’ve never been a jockey. You have to be a hell of a judge to know you’ll be in front half a stride after the line. He’s riding a horse who has never run before and he’s had issues. It was hands and heels which is all I asked for.

“With horses first time out I think people understand it (will not be hard ridden). When used artistically the stick is an art form, but first time out I don’t like them used on my horses.”

Havlin rode a winner for Gosden at Doncaster on Friday with Side Shot, after which he said: “There were a few avenues we could go down. I spoke to Rory (Mac Neice, solicitor) and we discussed it, but I just didn’t want it to drag on into next week. I wanted to draw a line under it and just move on.

“That’s racing, my lad wasn’t going much quicker in the straight and Frankie’s was and was ridden out.

“I just thought it was the best thing to do (not appeal), put a line under it and walk on.

“I’ll take some time off. I haven’t had a day off in 18 months, so I’ll take some time off and spend it with the kids.”

Apprentice Benoit de la Sayette winning the Lincoln on Haqeeqy
Apprentice Benoit de la Sayette winning the Lincoln on Haqeeqy (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

It has been a trying week for Gosden’s jockeys as the first apprentice he has taken on for a long time, Benoit de la Sayette, who won the Lincoln last month on Haqeeqy, tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine having originally denied taking the drug.

“This is a problem in every town, village and city up and down the country,” said Gosden, who was speaking at Sandown.

“The teenagers have been in lockdown for a year, they are bored stiff and can’t even go and play football with their friends in the park – they are looking for another stimulant.

“You don’t have to be Einstein to see alcohol sales have gone through the roof, people are drinking more because they are bored looking at the walls.

“These kids are no different, to that extent they need all the support they can get – and a firm talking to.

“You could probably go into Esher now and find some cocaine in a beer garden – but remember it also suppresses appetite, if you are a jockey wasting. If you drink alcohol you’ve got sugar and carbohydrates that go with that so it’s another way of having a good time – but it’s illegal and it’s got to be stamped out.

“Urine samples are one thing, but hair samples are another. He was messing around with it at the beginning of the year and he’s paid a mighty price.

“I see no harm in doing more testing, it’s an obvious place to go.”

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