'I was in bed by midnight' says Bellamy over failed breath test
Tom Bellamy has apologised after a failed breath test for excess alcohol cost him his rides at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.
The 23-year-old said he had "two or three drinks" on New Year's Eve and had been in bed by midnight. But his breath-test sample showed "alcohol above the threshold level" of 17 micrograms per 100 millilitres and he now faces a hearing at the BHA's headquarters in London.
The threshold is just under half that for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland of 35mgs in breath.
Bellamy was due to have three rides on the high-profile Cheltenham card, including the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Splash Of Ginge, who gave the rider his biggest day in the saddle when winning the BetVictor Gold Cup in November.
The jockey, who has ridden at no lower than 10st 5lb in the last year, said: "I hadn't done anything stupid on New Year's Eve – I had two or three drinks and was in bed by midnight. But I didn't eat a thing last night or this morning.
"I'm gutted and want to apologise to everyone and am grateful to Nigel for supporting me."
In addition to Splash Of Ginge in the £75,000 2m5f handicap chase, Bellamy was also due to ride Ballymalin – who finished third – in the 3m2½f handicap chase and Qualando in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle.
Twiston-Davies, who also trains Ballymalin, said: "I definitely don't blame him. His last drink was before midnight. It shouldn't have happened but these things do happen."
"He's a big boy. He had a couple of drinks last night and nothing to eat. I'm not upset for me – I'm desperately upset for him."
A report from the Cheltenham stewards read: "The sampling officer reported that Tom Bellamy provided a sample which was found to contain alcohol above the threshold level for breath samples.
"The rider, the clerk of the scales and the sampling officer were interviewed. The matter was referred to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority and Bellamy was suspended from riding for the rest of the day."
Every jockey riding at Cheltenham was tested, as is normal when the testers are on the racecourse.
Stipendiary steward Simon Cowley said: "The reading was sufficiently high that he had to be stood down, and the matter is now referred to London, where an inquiry will be held."
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com