PAT HEALY: This week Pat addresses the Oisin Murphy news and explains why he would prefer to see fines used as punishment rather than bans.

Oisin Murphy

Oisin is clearly the big news. Whatever your opinion is, it is a huge ban and a huge fine. I think it doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. Oisin knew the rules and he broke them with Covid and he broke the rules of life at being a professional jockey. The good news is that he has recognised that alcohol does him no good and he is addressing it. He’s lucky because he has youth and talent on his side, so I’m sure he will come back bigger and stronger.

Of course, we are all thinking of him, and we wish him luck. He has had an amazing career so far, with three Champion Jockey titles and that 2000 Guineas win on Kameko in 2020. He is a huge name in the global industry of horse racing, which he has created off his own back through hard work and talent. I hope he keeps his head down and gets through the ban. I’m sure he will be back bigger and stronger.

I must admit I was surprised at the length of the ban. I’m not saying it was wrong, but I didn’t think he would get 14 months. If I’m honest, I thought he would maybe get six months and be back for Goodwood. He must be made an example of, especially as he broke the Covid rules as well. We all knew the rules, we all abided by the rules; the rules were put in place to keep racing safe and on the road.

There is an argument against banning jockeys. When you have a box office name or one of the high-profile names in racing like Oisin, Frankie Dettori or Ryan Moore, who people want to see in action. People want to see these stars up close and they pay money to witness them walking into the parade ring or riding a horse, what good is banning them for three or four days? Would it not be better off landing him with a hefty fine? He is more than able to pay it and in the three or four days he would miss, he would probably make that amount of money anyway.

It’s the same with the young fellas. What is the point in banning jockeys? I think fining them hurts them more because they feel it more. Banning Oisin for 14 months, is it right? In theory it is, but is it the right thing to do for the sport and for Oisin Murphy the person? I’m not so sure. Fine them a significant amount for whatever transgression they broke, they will feel that more.

Cheltenham Fever

Cheltenham fever has cranked up. We had Willie Mullins’ press morning this week. We have Gordon Elliott’s press morning on Monday. Henry de Bromhead welcomed the cameras to his yard this week as well. It is a nervous time for every trainer and jockey involved. Horses are fragile enough creatures and a jockey knows he’s going out to ride and at the back of his mind he is thinking that he doesn’t want to get a fall and miss it. We wish them all the luck that they get there safe and sound.

I think, with the way things have gone, people are doing more multiple bets now, aren’t they? There seems to be good value in these doubles and trebles. A treble of Galopin Des Champs, Facile Vega in the bumper and probably Allaho seems to be the way people are going at the moment. I certainly wouldn’t put people off those three!

I know from talking to plenty of people from up and down the country heading to the racecourses, everyone is looking forward to getting back to Cheltenham for the Festival. We are due to witness some fantastic racing. I’m heading down on the Monday and can’t wait for it all to get going.

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