A 14-1 winner has been disqualified because his jockey forgot to get himself weighed after the race, having apparently been distracted by an interview with ITV Racing. The channel’s cameras were making a rare visit to Taunton on Thursday when the 25-year-old Alex Thorne rode Twin Star to an unexpected victory in a handicap hurdle.
Thorne’s mistake was to some extent caused by rearrangements at the course necessitated by Covid-19 precautions, as a result of which the jockeys’ changing room has been moved into one of the grandstands, away from the normal weighing room. After dismounting and exchanging a quick word with the winning trainer, Noel Williams, Thorne gave an interview to ITV and then turned left towards the changing facilities rather than right towards the weighing room.
As soon as he entered the changing room, the outcome was a forgone conclusion. The stewards eventually confirmed Twin Star had been disqualified and the race awarded to Robinshill, while Thorne must serve a 21-day suspension and forfeit his riding fee.
It would have been just a third winner of the season for Williams, who sounded thoroughly deflated. “He’s given the horse an absolutely lovely ride, done everything you could ask,” Williams said of Thorne. “He’s got a career best effort out of that horse. When he got off, I said to him, ‘Go and weigh in, we’ll talk it over later’. Then he did an interview with somebody and maybe that’s taken his mind off it.
“Normally here you have to practically walk over the scales to get to the changing rooms, so this wouldn’t have happened, but everything’s different just now. He’s obviously had a rush of blood. So we’ve lost the race, which is gutting for everybody. When you’re a small team, you need these wins and it was a good little prize.”
The news came shortly after ITV screened an interview with Thorne in which the jockey said of some recent successes: “It’s going in the right direction, I’m happy. Hopefully the work’ll pay off.” He thanked Paddy Brennan, who normally rides Twin Star, for offering some insights that had helped him on the chestnut.
Brennan showed his support for the younger jockey, tweeting: “I’ve said that, since racing returned, the weighing-in process is confusing and needs addressing. Gutted for Alex Thorne, Noel Williams and the owner.”
There are no recent examples of a winning jockey failing to weigh in. On occasion, a breakdown in communication between a jockey and officials has led to a horse placed fourth or fifth being disqualified in such circumstances.
Several major betting firms said they would pay out on both Twin Star and Robinshill as winners. The additional expense will reduce their horse racing profits and therefore the money they return to the sport through the levy system.