How Horse Racing Authorities Can Kill the Goose

It can be tempting to put off suspensions for top jockeys guilty of dangerous riding in horse racing events. The Irish Horse Racing Authority, for example, is reported to be in a mood to allow Kieren Fallon to ride in the 2006 Irish Derby though he stands convicted of riding just a few days before at the Ascot in a manner that could have resulted in the wasting of a horse. So much effort, interest and money is at stake in major horse racing events, that authorities try and gloss over serious misdemeanor by top jockeys. Yet, such behavior is counter productive because it plays in to the hands of outspoken opponents of horse racing everywhere.

The sight of an accident can put off the most avid horse racing enthusiast, to say nothing about casual spectators and opponents of the sport looking for such incidents to make their points. Improving safety records at race tracks holds an important key to garnering growing support for horse racing. Appropriate riding behavior by jockeys can keep them safe from painful injuries and save their steeds from death as well. Racing stewards have the experience and judgment to spot dangerous riding, and authorities should enforce suspensions regardless of important events that may be scheduled for the period during which a rider has to be away from the race track.

Connivance between riders and unofficial and disreputable book makers is another drag on horse racing. Punters cannot be expected to support the sport unless all forms of gambling are strictly above board. Horse racing authorities can build steady following at their sites by establishing transparent pari-mutuel systems, networking with book makers who have clear track records, and by keeping riders who cheat away.

Horses are reliable and sporting animals, but unfortunately we cannot say this about all jockeys! It is imperative to weed out the corrupt elements and to deter those who give horse racing a bad name. That is why it would be best to force Fallon to serve his suspension-the Irish Derby will be better off without him!

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