Amateur jockey Billy Coonan and trainer Tony Martin face consequences for poor race performance
Amateur jockey Billy Coonan has been hit with a hefty 20-day non-trier ban after his ride, Read To Return, finished fifth in the amateur jockeys' handicap at Cheltenham. Coonan, who had never ridden at Cheltenham before, had the horse held back well off the pace and gradually fell behind as the race progressed. The ride attracted attention on social media and resulted in an enquiry and subsequent ban for Coonan.
Coonan admits to being 'too sympathetic' with the horse
In an interview with the stewards, Coonan admitted that he had been "too sympathetic" with Read To Return and should have asked the horse to close down the leaders earlier. He explained that he had gotten further back than intended in the first half of the race and that the horse felt flat out on the second circuit. Coonan accepted that his inexperience in the saddle played a role in his ride.
Trainer Tony Martin disagrees with Coonan's ride
Trainer Tony Martin stated that he agreed with the instructions given to Coonan but believed that the ride did not align with those instructions. He expressed that Coonan's ride displayed real inexperience and came too early in the rider's career. Martin believed that Coonan should have been closer from the start and ridden the horse more vigorously on the final circuit, preventing it from becoming detached.
Coonan suspended for 20 days
As a result of the inquiry, Coonan was suspended for 20 days for failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout the race. The stewards determined that Coonan had not ridden his mount in a way that demonstrated timely and substantial effort to achieve the best possible placing until it was too late in the race.
Overall, Coonan's ride at Cheltenham has resulted in significant consequences for both the jockey and trainer Tony Martin. The 20-day ban serves as a reminder of the importance of riding strategies and experience in the highly competitive world of horse racing.