Best witness claims John 'not in control' of horse at Plumpton

Trainer Jim Best

Trainer Jim Best: denies telling John to stop two horses in 2015

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

 By Jon Lees 7:11PM 22 NOV 2016 

FORMER Irish champion jump jockey Tom Morgan on Tuesday described the rider who claims Jim Best ordered him to stop two horses, as a novice who was incapable of restraining his horse and got tired.

Morgan, best known for riding Yahoo to be narrowly beaten by Desert Orchid in the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup, said in his view Paul John was not riding ‘stopping’ races and his performances were evidence of his inexperience and lack of confidence.

Morgan, called as an expert witness by Best retired in 1991 having ridden around 500 winners, and said he now advises owners, breeders and bloodstock agents.

He guided the disciplinary panel through videos of the races at Plumpton and Towcester in December last year in which John has alleged he was ordered to ensure both Echo Brava and Missile Man did not run on their merits.

It was Morgan’s view that the keen-going Echo Brava, making his hurdles debut at Plumpton, was “in control of the jockey, not the jockey in control of the horse”.

He said if John had been asked to stop the horse he would have seen the rider break its stride.

“He didn’t; if anything he encouraged the horse forward,” he said. “He was an inexperienced jockey on an inexperienced horse getting carted.”

A ‘masterclass’ in stopping

Earlier, John completed his evidence to the hearing, which is being held for a second time after the verdict of the first inquiry – a four-year ban for Lewes trainer Best – was quashed over a perception of bias because panel chairman Matthew Lohn carried out paid work for the BHA.

John claimed he was given a “masterclass” in stopping horses by Best and his brother Tom the night he had ridden Echo Brava.

He said he was called in to review the ride, for which he was banned for 14 days for not taking all reasonable and permissible measures on the horse, who finished fifth in a novice hurdle.

John, 24, alleged he had been ordered to finish 30 lengths behind the winner, start off in a handy position until the field passed the stands for the first time and then slowly fall back, taking the horse short into his hurdles to make him lose ground.

John alleged he was taken through the race again after evening stables by the Best brothers, who pointed out what he could have done differently in order to finish further back.

Best’s barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, asked John if this amounted to “a masterclass in stopping horses?” to which he responded: “Yes.”

Laidlaw said: “I suggest no conversation took place. In fact Mr Best was with Jack Callaghan [owner of Missile Man]. After your ride Mr Best told you how disappointed he was. He thought you rode badly.”

John replied: “He was disappointed because I made it so obvious.”

The case continues.

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