Features | 20th January 2017
Sport has a habit of throwing up moments of utter madness and none moreso than racing. The beauty of the game is that jockeys and their half-tonne partners can team up to provide moments of sporting wonder, but such is the prerogative of the equine beasts, they can also have a mind of their own and differing ideas to their human friends.
That said, sometimes the jockeys have a mind of their own, as our trawl through the craziest moments in racing proves.
An event that truly needs to be seen to be believed.
A little over 20 years ago, jockey Andrew Payne demonstrated superhuman levels of saddle agility when he managed to finish a race aboard a different horse to the one he’d lined up on moments earlier in the starting stalls.
Swinging into the home-straight at Sandown (Australia), Payne, riding 12/1 shot Hon Kwok Star swerved right and collided with 33/1 outsider Cogitate. The collision duly sent both jockeys hurtling towards the ground. But rather than hitting the deck, Payne then found himself falling onto Cogitate’s empty saddle. Taking advantage of the situation he managed to haul himself back upright and finish the race safely, albeit well behind the eventual winner.
To make matters all the more bizarre, the rider he displaced, 17-year-old Jason Patton, was also his brother-in-law. Both jockeys and horses suffered no serious injuries.
Lester Piggott, renowned across the world for his quick hands and superb timing, produced a moment of such light touch in the 1979 Grand Prix De Deauville that even the Artful Dodger would have been flabbergasted.
With a furlong to go, having dropped his own whip, he seamlessly reached over and grabbed a replacement from his backpedalling neighbour, young French jockey Alain Lequex.
Piggott’s mount, with the added encouragement, would then go on to finish second, one place ahead of Lequeux. A masterful manoeuvre that even caused the usually stone-faced Piggott to break into a smile when questioned about it after the race.
The French stewards didn’t find it so funny though and banned Piggott for 20 days.
This ordinary looking Beginners Chase at Castera-Verduzan, a provincial track an hour to the north-west of Toulouse, certainly takes the biscuit when it comes to chaos on a racecourse.
The madness begins as the field get scattered to all four corners of the course as they attempt to navigate a particularly tight and tricky juncture on the track; with only two of the riders actually taking the correct route.
Amid the ensuing mayhem, the two jockeys that did head off in the right direction almost end up wishing they hadn’t when two other riders cut directly across them later in the race when racing along the (mistaken) cross-country course.
To make matters worse for winning jockey Maxime Le Gaillard, he was then disqualified for causing the initial interference. A tough day at the office.
We’ve all been there; that moment when you’re focusing so much on the minor details that you totally forget the basics.
That certainly was the case for jockey Jorge Carrano as he set sail for home a circuit early in the Hasta la Vista handicap at Turf paradise in Arizona. The jockey, thinking he’d pulled off a tactical masterstroke, eased his horse down after what he thought was the finish line, only to be bypassed by the other runners.
Bearing in mind the name of the race, we have a feeling this could have been the jockey’s Judgement Day.
Sir AP McCoy was famed for his never-say-die attitude and this truly came to the fore at Southwell on Wednesday 23rd January 2002.
In one of the most remarkable races in recent memory, all seven starters either fell or refused the obstacles in front of them, leaving the rare prospect of a voided race. McCoy though had other plans.
His mount, odds-on favourite Family Business, had gone down with a circuit to go and five horses still in the race. But with all five subsequently shipping their riders, McCoy was prompted to leap back aboard Family Business and ride unopposed to the finish.
An unlikely victory that saw one lucky gambler, who never lost faith, win big after placing £4 on him at 1000/1 in-running.
The remounting of fallen horses has since been banned, so sights like this won’t ever be replicated!