Hughes: BHA failed in its duties by banning me
JOCKEY Richard Hughes on Friday failed in his bid to persuade the BHA's Appeal Board not to reciprocate the 50-day suspension he received following a race at Mumbai's Mahalaxmi racecourse in February.
In the statement given to racingpost.com below, Hughes outlines his concerns and argues that the BHA, by reciprocating the punishment, has failed in itsduties as a signatory to a key international agreement.
"I am disappointed at the decision of the BHA to reciprocate the suspension imposed by the Royal Western Indian Turf Club.
I understand and accept the need for reciprocation in general but I am at a loss to understand why in my case the penalty was reciprocated as I did not breach any rule there and anybody is welcome to view the race and make up their own minds.
I will outline first the background to my case and I will then deal with general reciprocation of penalties and what may be in store for other riders who ride abroad.
My evidence at the inquiry in India was that that I rode to the general instructions. I was sitting fifth in the race, about three lengths off the leader, instead of third or fourth as I was told to try and settle the filly and for her not to run free with top weight.
To quote from the enquiry: "He (R.Hughes) added that there would be many other occasions where he has not followed the instructions but uses his judgement to ride his own race and he had won many winners including for trainer Antia, using his own judgement and this was his style of riding."
This evidence was not challenged by the stewards at the inquiry or the Appeals Board in India nor was I told that using my own judgement on such previous occasions was contrary to the RWITC Rules of Racing.
There is no rule in the RWITC Rules of Racing which makes it mandatory for a rider to ride to the trainer's very specific instructions in the early part of the race - or indeed in any other part of the race - and that if he does not do so, he will be liable to be found guilty of not allowing the horse to run on its merits.
A rider's own judgement, as to the pace of the race and position of their horse in relation to the other horses throughout the race, is a fundamental aspect of race riding.
The BHA Disciplinary Panel's view was that the conclusions of the stewards and the Board of Appeal in India was that the horse was not allowed run on its merits, but that in coming to that conclusion they (RWITC) did not proceed on the basis that a departure from instructions established a breach of the requirements under the rule to take all responsible and permissible measures.
The BHA's Disciplinary Panel accepted this conclusion.
Not riding to instructions was exactly the basis on which they found me guilty, as stated at the enquiry and appeal. I quote: "The stewards, having deliberated on the matter at length, were not satisfied withthe explanation tendered by Jockey R.Hughes and held him guilty of not following the trainer's very specific instructions in the early part of the race, thereby not allowing Jacqueline Smile to run on its merits in Race No.202."
If the RWITC did not proceed on the basis that a departure from instructions was not a requirement to establish a breach of the requirements under the Rule, then what was the evidence to establish that I did not allow the horse to run on its merits?
No other part of the race was allowed to be viewed at the RWITC enquiry or Appeal.
There was no evidence to suggest a motive or collusion with any other persons to commit such a breach.
There was no evidence of financial gain or otherwise.
It simply relied on the opinion of the stewards.
One of the main objectives of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities by way of its "International Agreement" is to enhance public confidence in the integrity of the sport of racing.
The BHA are signatories to Article 10 of the International Agreement, which deals with the reciprocation of penalties and to quote from that Agreement: "Members who have adopted an Article in full or in part shall make provision within their domestic rules implementing its intentions."
The RWITC is not and cannot be a signatory to Article 10 of the Agreement by virtue of the fact that their Rules of Racing specifically deny the right of an appellant to be legally represented at an appeal hearing and as such it is a condition of a licence to ride there.
However, they still sought reciprocation of my suspension under the provisions of Article 10 despite the fact they do not subscribe to the minimum requirements of that Article.
Once the BHA adopted the terms of Article 10 in theAgreement, it was not an option whether or not to apply the principles of that Article when reciprocating a suspension.
The BHA as a signatory country is committed to implementing its intentions, otherwise what is the purpose of being a signatory to the Article?
One would have to assume that the stated international policies of the BHA in relation to reciprocation of penalties is formulated and approved by the board of the BHA and, as the rule makers, these policies should be reflected in their Rules of Racing but they are not.
The Disciplinary Panel's reasons for their rejection of the application not to reciprocate the suspension rely on the fact that the Royal Western India Turf Clubis a Recognised Racing Authority and not whether the RWITC is a signatory to, or follows the principles of, Article 10 of the International Agreement.
If I had received a ten-year ban or more then the BHA said that under their rules they would have to reciprocate it.
This is at odds with the policy of the BHA with regard to reciprocation.
It is illogical that there should be two systems of reciprocity, one where the signatory racing authority signs an agreement and agrees to put into their rules certain principles and standards that must be followed, while on the other hand to have another system with lesser obligations on the non signatory racing authorities.
There seems little point in any racing authority being a signatory to Article 10 if there is to be a parallel system with automatic reciprocation.
My contention was that by abandoning Article 10, the RWITC abandoned its right to reciprocity under Rule 69.
In respect of the International Agreement, I would have to conclude that the failure of my appeal is in part due to the BHA not including specific provisions in their domestic Rules of Racing, which they committed themselves to do as a signatory to Article 10 of the International Agreement. This would have enabled them to deal comprehensively with reciprocation of penalties."