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Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Hughes set to avoid ten-day ban as BHA says he did not break rules

Brian Hughes: second in the jump jockeys' championship last term
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Leading jump jockey Brian Hughes, banned for ten days by stewards at Stratford last month for not dismounting an apparently lame horse, has in effect had that suspension quashed after the BHA announced it will not make any submissions to the disciplinary panel at Friday's hearing.

Hughes, who was second to Richard Johnson in the race to be champion jockey last season and has established himself as the go-to rider in the north, was left fuming after being found guilty by local stewards of failing to dismount a lame horse following the success of Clondaw Draft in a novice handicap chase.

He described the situation as a "witch-hunt" and immediately signalled his intention to appeal the punishment, which it seems he will avoid.

His appeal will still take place at the BHA's headquarters in central London on Friday morning, but the governing body has said it does not believe the 31-year-old is in breach of any rules.

"The BHA believes it was correct that the stewards held an inquiry into Mr Hughes's pulling up of Clondaw Draft after the line, as it was apparent the horse was not dismounted immediately when it had appeared to have gone lame when pulled up to a trot after the finishing line," a BHA statement read on Thursday.

"However, on review of the video, Mr Hughes's evidence in the inquiry that he dismounted as soon as he considered the horse was lame, and the view of the BHA's veterinary officer that it wasn't possible to ascertain precisely whether the horse was lame at a walk – only at a trot – it is the view of the BHA that Mr Hughes dismounted at the appropriate time based on his own best judgement.

"As such, the view of the BHA is that the action taken by Mr Hughes did not place him in breach of the rules."

The outcome was welcomed by Hughes, whose solicitor Rory Mac Neice said: "The difficulty is the local stewards have to work to quite a tight time-frame and I understand that, but these types of allegations are reputationally quite serious. Brian is a very experienced rider who takes the welfare of every horse he rides seriously and this was an unpleasant allegation to be made."

It is the second time in two months the BHA has not challenged an appeal as Flat ace William Buick had an eight-day ban scratched in April for a similar offence.  

As such, the view of the BHA is that the action taken by Mr Hughes did not place him in breach of the rules
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