Today at Wetherby, leading jockey Barry Geraghty took the wrong course on 9-4 favourite My Petra when leading and was instantly out of the race. His negligent actions cost punters hundreds of thousands of pounds. Nothing against the guy, he is a class act and threw his hands up to admit his guilt, but for the stewards to only give him a 12-day suspension shows just how little respect the industry has for itself and its patrons.
Booed as he returned the paddock, Geraghty said: "I walked the track earlier on and I was well aware of it..."
It wasn't as if he was riding on the track for the first time. It is a jockey's responsibility to know where he is supposed to go. Actions which cause punters to do their dough cold deserve harsh penalties. Remember Roger Loughran on Central House? Similarly the judge Jane Stickels and anyone like her should be either banned from the sport or forced to perform cross-checks every time (like people in most jobs) before declaring results which cost punters and bookies plenty. And lastly, the track staff at Wetherby? What were they doing? How hard is it to set up cones across the track to help jockeys concentrate on what they are supposed to do? It's not rocket science and any other profession have every possible incidence of ambiguity ruled out as a matter of occupational health & safety.
Racing is effectively a medium for investment from individuals. If Geraghty was the CEO of a company who robbed its shareholders blind, he would expect to face criminal charges. That might be a bit harsh in this case but racing is a billion-pound industry and needs to treat itself as one. People invest vast sums in the stock market because it is heavily regulated. Punters invest millions every day on horses, only for amateur decisions to add to the natural randomness of results. Punting is not taken seriously as a profession, this doesn't help their case in trying to change that.
Blunders caused by negligence are avoidable, maybe not every single one but the majority can be prevented. But it will only happen when the industry gets serious about stamping it out, and it applies to everyone in the industry.
Want respect? Do it properly!