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Seven jockeys banned for ten days amid chaotic scenes in finale at Sandown

Extraordinary events at Sandown on Saturday in the closing London National left jockeys confused, punters bemused, the sport scratching its head as another major occasion was overshadowed by a fiasco and one of the trainers involved slamming the procedures.

Seven jockeys, who continued to race despite the stop-race yellow flag being waved just before the third-last fence, were handed ten-day suspensions following a lengthy stewards' inquiry.

Jamie Moore, Daryl Jacob, Adam Wedge, Stan Sheppard, Harry Skelton, Jamie Davies and Philip Donovan are set to miss the valuable Christmas schedule with the bans due to start on December 21 but pending appeal.

Officials took the decision to void the race as there were people on the track attending Houblon Des Obeaux, who suffered what was later reported by trainer Venetia Williams to be a heart attack, on the final bend of Sandown's chase course just after the pond fence.

The seven riders bypassed the fence in front of which the flag-waving official was standing, and only narrowly missed the stricken Houblon Des Obeaux around the home turn.

Dan Skelton, trainer of Get On The Yager, ridden by his brother Harry, said: "In the opinion of the jockeys I've spoken to, it [the flag] wasn't clearly visible. How that is interpreted is up to the authorities."

Skelton had stronger words for the process used to stop a race, which he feels is "inadequate" and leaves jockeys confused. 

"Regardless of the outcome of this, we have to wake up to it being 2019," Skelton added. "It is completely inadequate to have just one flag out there.

"We are running LED advertising boards around the racecourse. It would be simple to have an LED board making it absolutely clear and concise that the race should stop. 

"We need to stop putting one man in the middle of a muddy field. This is affecting these jockeys at the busiest time of the year. Every time that flag comes out, somebody gets a ban and it's not good enough. It must be addressed."

However, Chris Rutter, the chief steward on duty at Sandown, explained: "The yellow stop-race flag was put in place due to a stricken horse just coming into the home straight. When that flag is flown it means the race must stop and the race has been declared void.

"The jockeys should have continued up the home straight but they went round the pond fence. All those involved have received ten-day bans. The stop-race flag is there when there's a major hazard ahead. When that flag flies you have to stop riding.

"The film clearly shows the flag was there and that some of the jockeys have gone to stop and then ignored it. That's what the film's telling us and for that the jockeys have got ten days."

The jockeys reported hearing a whistle but said the flag was not clearly visible in the gloom.

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