Rob James sidelined for four months over video of him sitting on dead horse

Last eight months of 12-month suspension are suspended for amateur jockey after referral hearing

Amateur jockey Rob James faces four months on the sidelines after being found to have damaged the reputation of racing at an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board Referrals hearing on Wednesday night.

James had his qualified riders licence, and his handlers permit, suspended for a year. However the panel chaired by Justice Leonie Reynolds suspended the last eight months of the penalty.

James, a Cheltenham festival-winning rider, had apologised for his “stupidity” last week after film emerged on social media of him sitting on a racehorse that had suffered a heart attack on a gallop in 2016.

In the video James can be seen sitting on the animal as if he is riding it while other people in the background can be heard laughing.

It came just days after a photo of Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead racehorse on his gallops caused huge controversy.

A referral hearing last Friday resulted in Elliott having his licence withdrawn for a year – with half of it suspended – for damaging the reputation of racing.

James told Wednesday’s hearing that he will not attend a race meeting or a point-to-point for the four-month period of his suspension.

Having considered the evidence of an IHRB investigation the panel, which also included Nick Wachman and Seán Barry, concluded James was in breach of rule 272 which deals with the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing.

Details on the Referrals panel’s decision will be published on Thursday.

Separately on Wednesday the IHRB indicated that the only condition on Gordon Elliott’s suspension is that he doesn’t attend a race meeting or a point-to-point during the next six months.

It also said there are no extra conditions on the licence of Denise Foster who has taken over as the licence holder at Elliott's Cullentra Stables.

It came after the British Horseracing Authority's chief executive Julie Harrington had said the BHA were "seeking clarification of what conditions have been put in place" in the arrangement that allows Cheltenham hopefuls previously trained by Elliott – but which will run under Foster's licence – to take part.

Harrington said she didn’t anticipate any issues on those horses taking part at Cheltenham.

Significantly, however, she added: “We want to make sure that any horses attending are not clearly under the Gordon Elliott flag.

“I’ve made our views on it clear and we’re waiting to hear what conditions will be applied to Denise. Then we will also be able to look, if we’re not happy, at what is available to us within our own rules.

“At this point we’re having really good discussions [with the IHRB] so I’m not envisaging us getting to that point [preventing the horses running/].”

Elliott lives at Cullentra House yard and is allowed work in his yard while suspended.

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