LONDON -- Jockey Paul O'Neill was given a one-day ban
Thursday by the sport's governing body for head-butting his horse
before a race.
The Horseracing Regulatory Authority reviewed TV footage of the
incident at a race in Stratford on July 23 before reaching its
TV replays showed the horse, City Affair, being unruly in the
parade ring, ultimately throwing O'Neill. The 26-year-old Irish
jockey got to his feet and grabbed the reins, before lowering the
butt of his helmet into the horse's nose.
City Affair went on to finish fourth in the 2-mile event.
"If the horse had been injured then that is very different as
it is abuse and we would throw the book at a jockey," said Malcolm
Wallace, head of regulation at the HRA. "It is very important to
remember this horse was not injured ... so the penalty of one day
is consistent with a jockey who was also given one day for throwing
his whip at a horse."
O'Neill, who could have been banned for up to 21 days, will
serve his suspension on Aug. 11.
"I am pleased the hearing is now over. I accept the judgment of
the panel and I want to take this final opportunity to say how
sorry I am," O'Neill said after the hearing. "I now want to put
this incident behind me and get on with my career."
British newspapers likened the incident to Zinedine Zidane's
head-butt of Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final, with many
headlines reading, "Jockey does a 'Zidane' to his horse."
"This has to be taken in context and you have to forget the
hype and the tabloid headlines," Wallace said. "This should have
been dealt with by the stewards on the day and had it been seen by
them it would have been."
The panel's ruling falls in line with similar cases, such as a
one-day suspension to jockey Timmy Murphy in December 2004 for throwing
his whip at his mount.