Watching the replays from today’s New Year’s day racing (took a while) the big talking point must be jockey Adam Wedge picking up a 21 day ban for missing out the first fence in the home straight (3rd last) in the 3.00 at Exeter.
My question is not whether Wedge made a mistake or not, or if he should be promised but whether it is right, morally right, to ban a jockey for 21 days?
To my eye this wasn’t totally straightforward. It appeared that most fences were omitted on the last circuit, presumably because of the sun. I’m not making excuses for Wedge, he made a mistake which clearly he shouldn’t. And yes, he was riding an odds on favourite in a 3 runner race, which he’d have clearly won had he jumped that fence.
However, I’ve always wondered how it can be right to take away a person’s livelihood for a length of time, just for making a mistake. If he made it intentionally then certainly throw the book at him, but I have to doubt that was the case. We all make mistakes. I make plenty. Being unable to earn money for three weeks as a result though is a serious punishment.
I don’t know Adam Wedge. There’s not much about him on the internet. Not even a wikipedia page. He rides for trainer Evan Williams and his best season saw him win 36 races in 2015/16. His biggest win was the Scottish Champion Hurdle on Court Minstrel. Point is he is hardly making a fortune riding horses. Denying him the chance to earn money for three weeks feels harsh to me. A fine, perhaps paid in instalments or whatever maybe would be a better punishment. Better still, get him in with aspiring jockeys or school kids as part of an enforced community programme. Wedge says he’s devastated (and no doubt massively embarrassed). The publicity alone should ensure he never does this again.
Perhaps punishments this severe are meant to be a deterrent against others doing it – but that only works if the mistake was intentional. It has happened before and will happen again.
Maybe I’m wrong? In some jurisdictions they’d have banned him for a lot longer. What do you think?