Was the BHA right to stop Mangan from riding in the Derby?
Two Racing Post writers take opposing views
The BHA was right
David Baxter, reporter
Like the Grand National, the Derby is one of the occasions when racing captures the attention of a wider audience. With that in mind, to have a horse running who to date has shown nowhere near the level of form required for a Group 1 race would, in sporting terms, be unedifying.
That is to take nothing away from owner-breeder Richard Aylward's dream of running a horse in the Classic. He owns the horse, is allowed to make such decisions, and because there are no conditions on entry for the race, is well within his rights to do so.
Diore Lia was running for charity, which is also to be applauded, but Epsom is not a normal track, and this is not a normal situation. It is not hard to feel sympathy for Mangan, who simply grasped the opportunity to ride in a race that other, more experienced jockeys, will never get the chance to.
However, if the pair found themselves to be well out of their depth then a dangerous situation could have developed putting both them, and other runners and riders, at risk.
The BHA correctly identified this, but the timing could have been better. Diore Lia's Derby run has been well known for weeks, and there has been more than ample time for the ruling to be made, or even to see if Aylward would consider switching jockeys so as to allay safety concerns as much as possible.
The BHA was wrong
Scott Burton, French correspondent
Is the Derby fundamentally a harder – or more dangerous – race to ride in than, say, the Class 4 handicap run at Epsom on the Investec trials card in April?
In that race Finley Marsh (claiming 7lb) finished third, a neck in front of Mitch Godwin, whose apprentice claim is 5lb, as is that of George Wood, who finished two places further back in sixth.
Being a handicap, the chances of a close, competitive finish were greatly enhanced, compared to a Group 1 where the range of BHA ratings – even ignoring Diore Lia – is 28lb.
Yes, the Derby is different in lots of respects, both in terms of its public profile and its long-term importance to those who might own or breed the winner.
But not so different that only the most hardened veteran need apply.
In France there are strict rules about apprentices and amateurs not riding in the daily Quinte handicap, which led to the seemingly arbitrary situation in 2014 that Sam Waley-Cohen would only be allowed to ride Long Run in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris if there were insufficient declared runners to operate the bet (in the event there were 15 and Ruby Walsh took the ride).
But the Waley-Cohens knew the rules when they entered Long Run, whereas the sudden emergence of rule 83 seems to have taken almost everybody by surprise.
Should there be stricter qualifications on rider experience for the top races on the Flat? Perhaps. But that is work for the off season and a wide-ranging consultation, not a rummage through the rule book three days before the race.
The BHA has been caught doing its maths homework at the back of the school bus.