Delpech puts Vengeance ride on the line to defend his name

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2007, 12:00am

Anthony Delpech spent one of the toughest days of his professional life yesterday, torn between his reputation and his long-time partnership with champion galloper Vengeance Of Rain, before lodging an appeal against a six-week riding ban.

The South African was stunned on Tuesday with an 11-meeting suspension, after Jockey Club stewards found him guilty of not taking all reasonable and permissible measures to win on fast-finishing runner-up Spare A Dime last week at Sha Tin.

The rider had to choose between contesting an 'unfair' verdict and continuing his partnership with Vengeance Of Rain. 'I wanted to appeal because I'm not guilty,' Delpech (pictured) said yesterday. 'But my appeal isn't likely to be heard for six or seven weeks and if it isn't upheld, I will not be able to ride Vengeance Of Rain on International day.'

Delpech has been the only rider aboard Vengeance Of Rain since January 2005, for 17 starts and nine wins, including the world's joint-richest turf race, the Dubai Sheema Classic.

'It was a difficult decision because the owners of Vengeance Of Rain have been so loyal and so good to me and I did have them to think about, too,' Delpech said. 'But I had fought so hard on Tuesday about my innocence that, in the end, I felt it wasn't being fair to myself if I just accepted this decision.

'I've never been questioned in this way in 24 years of riding and although the stewards have penalised me for what they thought was an error of judgment, this is a rule that people everywhere read in a certain way that isn't very flattering for your reputation. That's why I decided in the end to fight it. I just don't want something like this on my record.'

It is normal practice for the stewards to set aside a penalty pending the hearing of an appeal, so Delpech will be free to ride in the immediate future until a two-meeting careless riding ban from the same ride on Spare A Dime takes effect on October 15. Then, if the appeal does not take place until mid-November, as Delpech believes, he will be able to pilot Vengeance Of Rain in his return race for the season, the Group Two Cathay Pacific International Mile Trial on November 17.

But his participation on December 9 at the International showpiece fixture will then depend on the outcome of the appeal.

Old hand

Anthony Delpech is determined to clear his name

The South African has been in the saddle for this many years: 24