Reduced ban a weight off Andrew Thornton’s mind

Andrew Thornton: ban halved. Picture: PA
Andrew Thornton: ban halved. Picture: PA
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Andrew Thornton is free to ride at Cheltenham next week after having a six-day ban reduced to three days following an appeal.

The rider, who is closing in on a landmark 1,000 career winners, was suspended after weighing in 2lb heavier than weighing out on third-placed Saucysioux in a bumper at Plumpton on 23 February.

Having heard evidence from the British Horseracing Authority and Thornton, the disciplinary panel noted that it was the rider’s responsibility to make himself aware of the fact that his weight going out was 151.5lb - 0.5lb overweight with the risk of being overweight coming back with conditions riding heavy.

In light of that fact, the panel ruled the local stewards had acted correctly in not exercising discretion available to them under the rules, in what was Thornton’s second offence of a similar nature in the last 12 months.

However, the panel considered the facts were different to the previous case and accepted that Thornton had returned to the scales covered in mud.

As a result, the panel quashed the six-day suspension, instead ruling three days was appropriate, meaning Thornton will sit out 9, 14, and 15 March.

At Ayr today, Kumbeshwar appears to have rediscovered a little of his better form and can continue that resurgence in the Seven Exclusive Races On Racinguk Handicap Hurdle.

The eight-year-old was always just a notch below top class for Alan King before being shipped out of the yard last spring and snapped up by Lucinda Russell for £23,000. He did not look all that promising in his first handful of starts for Russell but he has gradually found his feet now he is back over hurdles and his rating of 120 looks very favourable considering he was rated over 150 over fences at his peak.

Meanwhile, ante-post favourite John F Kennedy heads the 102 entries left in this year’s Investec Derby following the latest forfeit stage. The son of Galileo, who is a general 6-1 market leader, is one of 21 horses in the £1.325 million contest on 6 June for trainer Aidan O’Brien.

The master of Ballydoyle, responsible for the last three winners of the mile-and-a-half Classic, can also call on Group 2 winners Highland Reel and Ol’ Man River. Godolphin have 11 contenders, including the unbeaten Charlie Appleby trained Festive Fare, as does Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, whose entries feature Royal Lodge Stakes runner-up Nafaqa and the highly regarded Algaith, both trained by Barry Hills.

Five-time Derby-winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute has eight contenders, headed by winning debutants Consort and Peterhof along with Sandown maiden winner Dartmouth, who is owned by the Queen. There are eight French-trained entries, topped by the Aga Khan-owned and Alan de Royer-Dupre-trained pair of Zarkar and Zourkhan. Andre Fabre, who sent out Pour Moi to win the 2011 renewal, has Harlem, Heredity and Hipparchus for owner Khalid Abdullah.

The unraced Andreas Wohler-trained Rogue Runner is one of two German entries, and six owned by Qatar Racing, who also share an entry in Indian Monsoon with Al Shaqab Racing, who have four separate possibles still remaining. A second entry stage, where Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park and Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes winner Gleneagles are likely to enter the fray, will take place on 7 April.