Ballydoyle-based jockey Séamie Heffernan was suspended for 22 days by Chantilly stewards this afternoon after exceeding the permitted number of strokes with the whip in the Prix du Jockey Club.
Heffernan hit the seventh-placed Order Of Australia 11 times during the day’s feature race in France, six times more than the permitted limit.
Forty-seven-year-old Heffernan, who rode Russian Emperor in the Investec Derby at Epsom yesterday, already knew he would have to quarantine for 14 days on his return to Ireland.
The quarantine period was due to expire the weekend of the Juddmonte Irish Oaks (18th July) at The Curragh, but the ban handed out today will then begin on 19th July and keep the jockey out of action until 9th August.
Speaking this evening, the Co. Kildare-born rider said:
“I got a fairly strong suspension, but there’s strict rules there. My horse was going to go over the rail, I had a white paint all around my boot, but those are the rules and that’s the way it was.”
Last weekend’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winning rider, continued:
“He (Order Of Australia) was on the rail and going to hang in over the rail and I thought he was going through it, so I was using my stick for safety reasons. But the rules are what they are. I’m very disappointed and very sorry it happened, but there you go. Twenty two days is what they gave me, but there’s a lot worse things going on in the world. I’m really, really sorry that it probably looked bad, but I felt I had to do it at the time to stop the horse colliding with the rail.”
French racing authorities reduced the permitted number of whip strikes to five last year, with stewards having been directed to increase the punishment in line with the number of hits above the limit and importance of the race.