Trainer Richard Hannon has backed his stable jockey Richard Hughes ’100%’ in his battle with the British Horseracing Authority over the new whip regulations introduced in British racing.
Hughes, who handed in his licence on Thursday night, was given a second ban in four days at Kempton Park which ruled him out of the plum ride in the Hannon trained Strong Suit at the Breeder’s Cup next month in America.
The trainer said on his website “It is absolutely ridiculous, and we will be the laughing stock of America when we get to the Breeders’ Cup and tell them that we could not bring our jockey because, though he weighs little more than 8st, he was suspended for striking half a ton of horseflesh six times with a padded foam whip.
“Qatar Bloodstock, who own Strong Suit, have made an enormous investment into our racing this season, and how this horse runs at Churchill Downs will go a long way to determining his value as a stallion.
“Strong Suit is a very good horse, but he is not an easy ride and takes a bit of knowing, and now because of one stupid decision we find that we are going to America without a jockey.
An annoyed Hannon continued “Richard Hughes does not abuse horses and he never has done. If Sheikh Fahad thought that he did he would not have horses with us, and nor would Andrew Tinkler or Julie Wood.
“Both Andrew and Julie have also ploughed a huge amount of money into racing – Julie has 26 horses with us and she was actually delighted with the ride that Hughesie gave More Than Words at Kempton and could not believe how they could possibly do him for the whip.
“The whole thing is a complete shambles and a total embarrassment. We are 100 per cent behind Hughesie, but this is not all about him. The entire situation re-thinking – people who do not understand race-riding are destroying the sport.”