Australian rider sent home at Heathrow following visa snag
Up-and-coming Australian apprentice Ethan Brown made it no further than immigration at Heathrow airport before being turned around and put on a plane back to Australia.
Brown, 18 and who has ridden 59 winners, was coming to Britain for a six-week holiday, during which he had arranged to ride out for William Haggas. But immigration officers deemed his trip to be for the purposes of employment – for which he did not have the correct visa – and so made him return home.
Haggas said on Monday: "Michael Kent, an Australian trainer whose son spent a bit of time with me, emailed and asked if I'd have Ethan here, explaining he's a really good rider and a really good person but is having too many winners and so needs his claim looking after.
"He was going to come unpaid to ride out and get a feel for England and our ways. It worked in reverse when Georgia Cox went to Gai Waterhouse, and it's the sort of thing we do all the time. Unfortunately when he got to Heathrow on Sunday immigration turned him down.
"Immigration is such a hot topic you can understand it, but they put two and two together and came up with five, and when I spoke to them from France they didn't really seem to get it at all. They held him overnight and put him back on the plane at eight in the morning. It's a real pity."
Victorian Jockeys' Association chief executive Matt Hyland, quoted by local media, said: "Unfortunately I had a phone call from Ethan's mother this morning at 4am.
"Ethan had been at the airport, he arrived midday their time, and he got to immigration and was refused entry. I don't think he had the appropriate visas to go in, and was there on a holiday but it appeared he was working from their point of view.
"He's feeling flat. It's the first time Ethan's been out of the country. The idea around it is really good. Mick Kent organised it through his son.
"Unfortunately it's just gone pear-shaped. Given the circumstances over the weekend [the London terrorist attack], you certainly need to have the appropriate paperwork going there, that's for sure."