THERE has been a further development in the case involving the suspension of UK-based jockey Pat Cosgrave, who fell afoul of the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) after his ride on Mike de Kock’s Anaerobio in the Gr1 Jebel Hatta at the Dubai Carnival.
On Monday, the ERA reduced Cosgrave’s initial six-month riding ban to four months, despite dismissing his appeal, but the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) announced on Tuesday, 6 May, that he will be free to ride in Britain for up to two weeks.
Meydan, 8 March, Gr1 Jebel Hatta: Anaerobio (Pat Cosgrave, red cap, middle, third), pictured near the finish line between the winner Vercingetorix (right) and fourth placed Trade Storm on the left.
The BHA noted in a statement: “The disciplinary panel have directed that the penalty imposed on Pat Cosgrave by the ERA should not apply in Britain for two weeks or until the non-reciprocation application is heard, whichever is first. Cosgrave is subsequently free to ride in Britain as of tomorrow (Wednesday, 7 May). If a hearing cannot be arranged within two weeks (May 20) then it will be necessary to decide if further stay of ERA penalty is justified.”
Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, applauded the statement, saying: “This is good news!”
In effect, the BHA panel will be convening as soon as possible to apply independent judgement to Cosgrave’s ride in question and to assess the ERA’s actions that followed. They will seek to determine whether the suspension handed out was justified . If they agree with the ERA’s findings, the banning will stand in the UK (and by implication worldwide), for four months. If they don’t, Cosgrave will be able to continue riding in the UK without restriction.
It is fair to say that a decision in Cosgrave’s favour will underpin the need for a higher degree of consistency in the interpretation of racing’s rules by Stipendiary Boards around the world, which will require some serious planning and coordinated efforts at the highest levels.
With dozens of variable factors to consider in any number of unpredictable situations within a race, Stipendiary Stewards don’t have an easy task. They will never be far away from criticism, sometimes unwarranted, but demands for change from various quarters have increased in recent times. Greater cooperation between the Stipes in respective racing jurisdictions is central to the issue. The entrusted officials have to find a way in which the rules can be applied as coherently as possible, including the setting of standard parameters when it comes to penalties for specific transgressions.
Cosgrave has been sidelined from the saddle for seven weeks since picking up his ban in early March. The case has drawn wide interest and comment from racing communities, also here in South Africa where the 31-year-old jockey is well-known for his association with Mike de Kock and a successful riding spell in the country a few years ago. The reduction of the riding ban made the front page of The Citizen in Johannesburg on Tuesday, promoted by street posters around the city.
In what could well become a landmark case for racing, there will be keen interest in how the BHA interprets the ERA’s view that Cosgrave was guilty of “improper riding” and whether a course of action towards greater unity will be suggested and sanctioned by the relevant authorities afterwards.
While some will expect the BHA to play things down with a careful and diplomatic approach, we may have reached a juncture at which gloves will come off and punches will be traded to determine who will end up cracking the whip for Racing Police United going forward.
We could be in for an interesting scenario in which the Accusers may become the Accused.
More about the Pat Cosgrave banning below: