After Nigel Hawke’s Watchoutitscookie finished seventh at Newton Abbot last month, he was accused of schooling and conditioning on a racetrack. Hawke filed an appeal, but it was denied.
Following the 2m1f novice hurdle on September 26, where the gelding finished 43 lengths behind the winner Sea The Clouds, the trainer was assessed a £3,000 fine and his runner was given a 40-day race suspension.
While the trainer was at fault for not giving clear instructions prior to the race, jockey Tom Buckley was given a 14-day suspension for failing to make an effort to secure the best placement but decided not to appeal.
Hawke, who spoke for himself throughout the two-hour hearing, failed to persuade the appeal panel on Thursday that his runner had been challenging for Buckley to handle on the day. Appeal chairman James O’Mahony expressed “considerable scepticism” over Hawke’s justification that the horse hanging as a factor in Watchoutitscookie’s performance.
However, Hawke believed his jockey had performed “as best he could on a horse that was very difficult to ride at the time.” Hawke acknowledged error in his handling of the performance on the day, which saw both trainer and jockey fail to report to officials after the race.
The trainer said: “I could have gotten Tom in trouble and said he didn’t do what I told him to do, but I think he genuinely was having difficulty riding that horse – is it evident he is hanging.
“I have great faith in the jockey, he didn’t do exactly what I wanted then and there’s a reason for it because he was unhappy with the horse.
“We do not school horses in public and I find that as a great insult to a man like myself who has been in the game for so long. I find that very hard to take.”