Merrigan hit with seven-day ban
PADDY MERRIGAN, on his first ride back after a self-imposed absence of nine months, was suspended by the Uttoxeter stewards for seven days for an ill-judged ride on Bill's Echo in the 2m5f handicap chase.
Merrigan indicated that he will be appealing against banPICTURE: Mark Cranham
Merrigan produced Bill's Echo with a strong late run to finish a length third to Alphabetical, having trailed his field by many lengths on the Alistair Whillans-trained runner for over a circuit.
He did not begin to ask Bill's Echo for an effort until the third last, and was then unlucky that the horse made a mistake at the next fence when closing; but for which he might well have won.
The jockey accepted he had ridden an ill-judged race, but was furious at the ban and indicated that he will be appealing. "I know I left it too late," he said, "but if every jockey who ever got something wrong was banned then racing would be a joke. The whole thing is bullshit."
The horse's joint owners, Charlie Byers and Michael Healy, were also upset with the stewards' decision to penalise Merrigan. "Ours is a hold-up horse who needs to be ridden like that and when he won at Huntingdon a couple of years back he came from 50 lengths off the pace," said Byers.
"I've backed the horse each-way today, as has Michael, and but for that mistake he made two out everyone would be saying what a brilliant ride Paddy had given him."
That mistake prompted the stewards to show some leniency towards the jockey, as stipendiary steward Ashley Bealby explained. "The entry point for an offence such as this is ten days," said Bealby, "but we've taken into account that the horse made that mistake and have therefore imposed just a seven-day ban.
Merrigan is stood down for October 5, 8 to 11, 14 and 15.