Robert Havlin's ban overturned by BHA without need for appeal

Robert Havlin has had his five-day ban for careless riding in the Lancashire Oaks quashed without the need for appeal after the BHA reviewed the controversial decision taken by local stewards to reprimand the jockey.

The decision by Haydock stewards to suspend Havlin for causing "considerable interference" when going for a gap up the inside of Eshaada, which officials deemed to be of insufficient size, was widely questioned, with the rider also making his annoyance clear when labelling the decision “quite bizarre”.

Havlin, 48, who went on to win the Group 2 contest on Free Wind for trainers John and Thady Gosden and owner George Strawbridge, said he had never countenanced missing any racing having firmly believed he would win his intended appeal against the decision.

Havlin said on Tuesday he was pleased to hear an appeal would now no longer be necessary.

The jockey said: “Rory Mac Neice [solicitor] rang me and said the BHA were going to quash it.

“I was happy to hear it. Obviously I’m pleased we didn’t have to drag through the appeal process. It’s good that they’re able to take a second look at it and the rules allow that. We can just draw a line under it now and move forward.

“I was shocked on the day, but I didn’t even look to see what I would miss because I was that confident I would get it overturned – most people were.

“I made my feelings clear in the stewards' room when they gave me the verdict that I was totally shocked and flabbergasted by the decision.”

The BHA said the decision to rescind the suspension was taken after a comprehensive review, while the Racing Post also understands that Jim Crowley, who partnered Eshaada, has been reminded of his responsibilities by the regulator, although no retrospective action was taken.

A BHA spokesman said: "Following a comprehensive review of the incident, it was determined that Mr Havlin did have a sufficient gap and had established his horse in that gap prior to the incident, and therefore did not commit a riding offence. 

"No further charges will be made against any other rider arising from this incident."

The stewarding of race-riding has come increasingly into the spotlight in recent weeks, with appeals against a 12-day ban for Christophe Soumillon for his riding after the finish to the Coral-Eclipse on Saturday and into the result of the Norfolk Stakes, after which Paul Hanagan was suspended for ten days, set to be heard by the disciplinary panel.

This week, Derby-winning jockey-turned-coach John Reid said British racing should be open to changing the rules on interference, while former champion Richard Hughes said Havlin was “unlucky” to be banned and that he had been “shocked” by the stewards’ decision.

Former rider George Baker was also critical of the Haydock stewards, and said: "In my opinion there was a gap there and he was very much entitled to go into it – and when Jim Crowley identified he was in there, he kept him tight. I think the stewards got it wrong. It was a poor decision."

Trainer Nigel Tinkler lent his support to Havlin on Tuesday but expressed sympathy for the stewards.

He said: "I'm not surprised it was overturned. It's a shame they got it wrong on the day but the stewards don't make a lot of wrong decisions and it's good they could change it. If the gap is there, you can take it. But I don't think Jim Crowley did a lot wrong either."