Mark Crehan

On Saturday night at Doncaster, Mark Crehan appeared to have given 9/4 shot Aerion Power the perfect ride as he coasted into the lead half a furlong from home. However, the apprentice jockey threw away his two-length advantage by easing up, allowing Colony Queen to get her head in front in the shadow of the post.

The 23-year-old had mistaken the 1/2 furlong pole for the finishing post. It wasn’t an everyday jockey mistake like mistiming a challenge or coming too wide, he had done everything right but stopped riding 110 yards too early.

Of course, given that Crehan had accidentally lost his first-place finish, the British Horseracing Authority had to issue a punishment.

The stewards report for the race reads, The Stewards held an enquiry to consider why Mark Crehan, the rider of AERION POWER (IRE), who finished second, beaten by a neck, had appeared to stop riding half a furlong out.

‘Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found he had mistaken the ½ furlong marker for the winning post and as such had stopped riding prematurely. Crehan was found in breach of Rule (F)37 and guilty of failing to ride out on a horse that would have finished first and was suspended for 28 days.

The 3lb claimer will now be unable to ride from the 31st of July to the 27th of August.

Those weeks on the sidelines give Marco Ghiani the chance to extend his lead at the top of the Apprentice Jockeys Championship. The Italian currently has 25 wins to his name this season, with Crehan in joint-second, and was looking the most likely to push him for the title, on 17 wins.

Considering it was human error by an apprentice jockey, banning Crehan for 28 days seems excessive. Professional jockeys have received far softer punishments from the BHA for riding dangerously and putting the lives of other jockeys at risk.

Maybe if the pressure from punters who, rightfully, felt robbed wasn’t so strong then the BHA might have softened the blow. Instead they imposed the recommended punishment for Negligence By Rider for not riding out a proper finish (which would have likely seen him win the race), regardless of context.

Would halving Crehan’s punishment have been sufficient? It was a blatant blunder made by a jockey who isn’t even a fully qualified professional yet. Stripping him of a month’s worth of wages and opportunities is far more than a slap on the wrist.

Pocket talkers have suggested that Crehan purposefully lost the race for Sir Michael Stoute and connections, which seems ludicrous – the incident was far too conspicuous for that to be the case.

Those who backed Aerion Power have every right to be sour about the outcome of the race. For Crehan though, this was a costly error, but something he should learn from. He remains a bright prospect who is well worth keeping an eye on.