01 August 2023

Crowley shoulders ‘huge punishment’ for winning ride on Hukum

01 August 2023

Jim Crowley is set to miss the ride on Mostahdaf at York after picking up what is believed to be a significant suspension for his winning ride on Hukum in Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Crowley and Westover’s jockey Rob Hornby, who finished second, were both referred to the British Horseracing Authority’s Whip Review Committee in the wake of what was unforgettable finish to the midsummer showpiece.

Flat riders are allowed to use their whip six times in a race, with a four-day ban for going one over the limit and seven days for going two over. Crowley reportedly used his whip nine times, which incurs a 10-day ban and is doubled for a class one race.

Had Crowley used his whip four times over the limit then Hukum would have been disqualified.

The punishment is doubled-edged for Crowley as he was due to ride runaway Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Mostahdaf in the Juddmonte International at the Ebor meeting.

On Monday the whip rules were tweaked once more by the BHA following a six-month review period, but the changes would not have affected Crowley’s punishment due to the severity of his offence.

Speaking to ITV Racing before any official publication of the committee’s findings, Crowley said: “It’s a huge punishment. I spoke to Rob and neither of us knew we had gone over.

“I had absolutely no idea. When we go out we are aware of the whip rules and aware of the severity of them.

“In the finish we are both thinking, ‘don’t go over’, as one thing and secondly you are trying to keep the momentum of your horse, you can’t cause any interference as a slight bump and you could get chucked out. You are trying to stay in rhythm with the horse and you are really in the zone.

“That is not to say you are not thinking about the whip because you are, but it is very difficult to be counting the strokes when you are in that scenario. It’s not a win-at-all costs ride, but it is so difficult, until you are in that situation yourself – it is hard to explain.

“Neither of us were aware we’d gone over, that’s the worrying thing. We got back to the weighing room and got a tap on the shoulder and straight away a feeling of dread comes over you.

“Imagine a tennis player in the Wimbledon final, you are not counting numbers in your head – it’s very difficult.

“The rules are the rules. Does the punishment fit the crime? I don’t think so, but I would say that. It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow.

“Some jockeys were consulted about the rules, there’s a bit of a stigma about that, but I can guarantee you know there isn’t a jockey in that weighing room who agrees with the rules.

“Neither jockey went out there to win at all costs. It was a mistake, it’s very unfortunate. He’s my favourite horse, it’s a shame it’s worked out this way.”

Ralph Beckett, the trainer of Westover, said: “I think once you put a finite number on it, you run into more problems than you solve and that is where we are now, we’ve created more problems than we’ve solved.

“Westover is fine, he bounced out of it and if I showed you a video you’d say he was ready to go again.”

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