CHAMPION jockey Greg Ryan is set to appeal the findings of a stewards’ inquiry which took place at Dubbo racecourse yesterday and has cast a shadow over his chances to win the Australian jockeys title.
Ryan, who currently holds a 2.5-win margin over Victorian Dean Yendall, was slapped with a six-week suspension by stewards who found he had erred in his judgement twice when riding well-backed favourite Grey Pariz in the Kings Hall Jewellers Class 2 Handicap (1320m) at the same venue on June 20.
Stewards argued that Ryan showed no vigour on the noted frontrunner early in the race, and insufficient vigour from the 400m mark to the 200m before the gelding stormed home from back in the field to finish third, beaten a length by Subtract.
Ironically the gelding was an all-the-way winner at Bathurst on Tuesday.
Ryan was charged under Australian Rule of Racing 135(b), which states that the rider of any horse “shall take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout the race to ensure their horse is given full opportunity to win or to obtain the best possible place in the field”.
The race attracted the ire of punters on social media, with Ryan blasting the process that saw him facing the inquiry in the first place.
“The only reason we’re here is because of imbeciles on Twitter,” he told the hearing.
“These people get on there and say what they want, and a lot of it is defamatory. Then here I am facing questions about my integrity.”
Grey Pariz’s trainer Shane Cunynghame was the first to give evidence at the inquiry and admitted he expected the horse to be ridden in a forward position.
He also also conceded he had contemplated scratching when the horse drew the extreme outside gate in the 14-horse field and confirmed Ryan had asked him pre-race whether the horse would race fiercely if they had to go back in the field.
Both Cunynghame and Ryan were shown multiple views of the race replay, with Ryan arguing that he had no option but to do what he did.
“The horse jumped awkwardly and every runner inside me was hunting up to hold a position, which is the common trend over the 1300m here because it’s a short run to the first turn,” Ryan said, with hand-timed sectionals backing up his claims pertaining to the early tempo of the race.
“I’d seen replays of the horse’s races and in its prior runs when it had led it had been in small fields, with long runs to the first turn and no tempo, and even then it was a matter of other horses surrendering the lead to him.
“From where I was I would have had to improve four lengths to be able to be close to the lead or the rail and I don’t think he would have been capable of doing that.
“My intention was to go forward but I knew there was a chance I could be caught wide so I had to make a decision
“I think on the footage there’s strong evidence to suggest the horse couldn’t cross the field and evidence that I rode it out in the home straight.”
Ryan did concede he wasn’t overly aggressive early but added that was due to his assertion after the barriers opened that he would be trapped wide.
Phone records from both Ryan and Cunynghame revealed nothing untoward and nor did betting records from the race.
After considering the evidence stewards found Ryan guilty, with chief stipe Todd Smith telling Ryan that punters should be able to expect their horses will be given every possible opportunity in a race.
When considering a penalty for Ryan, they took into account the fact he has ridden in more than 15,000 races with no prior charge of this kind before suspending him for a period of six weeks, which will start after the Wellington meeting next Tuesday.
Pending the outcome of the appeal, he will be eligible to return to race riding on August 20.