British jockeys planning to ride in India next winter are likely to think again. After Richard Hughes fell foul of the authorities there in 2012 to the tune of 50 days, Martin Dwyer had a 55-day suspension imposed in February this year. He appealed, and yesterday it appeared that the Royal Western India Turf Club had increased his ban to eight months.
Dwyer learned of the decision during the meeting at Wolverhampton, and responded by going out and riding a winner on Excellent Jem for Jane Chapple-Hyam. That gave him the opportunity to think about what he wanted to say about the India situation, though first he had some positive thoughts about the horse. He said, “It’s the first time I have ridden him. He’s been a bit disappointing but the blinkers have helped and it was a good effort with that weight.”
The Derby winning jockey hit trouble in India when his mount Ice Age could only finish third in a race at Mahalaxmi for which he was hot favourite. Police had to rescue Dwyer after a mob of disgruntled punters converged on him. At an inquiry immediately after the race Dwyer told RWITC officials that his horse had lost his action and bled from the nose.
That did not satisfy them, and they imposed a ban, which Dwyer soon appealed as he felt the first inquiry did not give him a fair hearing. Now, without seeming to involve Dwyer any further, the suspension has been increased, to run from 31 August until 30 April next year. Last night, Dwyer was far from clear about the situation. He said, “I’ve been told it has been taken up to seven months, but I have had no official notification through as it has only just happened. I can’t really comment much further other than to say I will definitely be appealing. I am a bit confused at this stage and either way it is not good news. All I can do now is wait for the official notification and see what the reasons are.”
There was sympathy for Dwyer from fellow sufferer Richard Hughes, who said, “I’m shocked. There is nothing to lose by appealing and if I was Martin I would want to know how I had a fair hearing.”
Also sticking up for him was trainer and father-in-law Willie Muir. It was more than family ties that led him to say, “I thought it was a joke at the time and I can’t believe what they’ve done now. I have known Martin for most of his racing career. This (preventing a horse running on its merits) would be the last thing on his mind. He wants to win everything he can, be it kicking a ball around the garden or riding a racehorse.”
At the back of his mind, Dwyer must be thinking about how the British Horseracing Authority will react to the ban. In Hughes’ case they were clear that it had international application, and it’s practically certain that they will take the same stance with Dwyer when all the dust finally settles.