James Ridley well clear before disaster struckPICTURE: RacingUK
Ridley banned after mistaking winning post
AMATEUR rider James Ridley described himself to be devastated after being hit with a 28-day ban for mistaking the winning post on Lookslikerainted, who would have won Newbury's hunter chase on Friday had the jockey not stopped riding in the closing stages.
Ridley, who has ridden six winners under rules and more than 40 in point-to-points, was in full control on the Martin Wilesmith-trained ten-year-old after Duke Of Lucca unseated his rider at the last, but mistook the half-furlong marker when a distance clear and was swallowed up by Triangular and Ballytober.
Stewards gave him the maximum ban available and their official report read he was guilty of "failing to ride out on a horse that would have finished first".
Ridley said: "I did mistake the winning post and it wasn't until they came past me I realised. I'm gutted and it's gutting for the owners and trainer.
"I have ridden here before, albeit a long time ago, but have never had a winner here. I did walk the home straight before racing to see what the ground was like and just misjudged the winning post."
Ridley, 27, suffered some verbal abuse from racegoers as he walked back to the weighing room.
After apologising to them, he added: "It's not a mistake that should be made and a big ban is probably to be expected. It's embarrassing enough."
One racegoer, who asked not to be named, said: "You've got an amateur who has messed up, but I'm devastated for the guy."
Ridley, who works for useful chaser Singlefarmpayment's part-owner Heather Haddock in her pre-training operation, will miss April 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 21-26 and 28, and May 1, 4-6, 9, 10, 15-19, 23, 25, 26 and 28.
Paddy Power made the goodwill gesture of paying out on Lookslikerainted as the winner, while the race will also be memorable for Ciara Fry, wife of trainer Harry, as Triangular provided her with her first winner under rules from her first runner.