THE Jockey Club is one of the few remaining relics in Britain of the days when self-appointed authorities ran the show without being responsible to anyone but themselves. Although the Club has become more open in recent times it still can behave with the most amazing arrogance. The latest case is the ban on jockeys using their mobile phones at the racecourse from half-an-hour before the start of racing until the last race has been run. On Monday at Leicester all the jockeys walked to the A6 road outside the racecourse to make symbolic protest calls; it provided a wonderful photo-opportunity but did little for the reputation of the Sport of Kings. Behind the Jockey Club's heavy-handed action lies the suspicion that some jockeys have been using their mobiles to pass on to professional gamblers last-minute information about the prospects for the next race. Evidence of this was given at the trial of the jockey Barrie Wright last year and the Jockey Club's solution to the problem is this week's blanket ban on mobiles. Jockeys live hectic lives, rising before dawn to ride work and travelling to afternoon and evening meetings on the same day. They need to be in regular touch with trainers who may want their services; many of them are free-lances depending on their mobiles for employment. They are licensed to ride by the Jockey Club; if the Club has evidence of wrong-doing against a jockey it should withdraw his licence. To punish them all is either very rough injustice or an admission that the sport for which the Club is responsible is out of control.


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