Sandown shunt shows racing needs safety-first approach on interference

Under a strong left-hand drive from William Buick, the colt lurched to his right and squeezed Surf Dancer against the railwith such force that the other horse had to scrabble to stay upright. That outcome makes sense if you’re a grizzled veteran who has been in the racing bubble for decades and like nothing better than a determined winning ride of the kind Buick delivered. The interference rules and the way they are enforced allow for too much danger, give too much leeway to the cut and thrust of competitive race-riding. One thing to look for in the closing stages is the leading horse that hangs across the path of his most likely challenger, deterring that rival and improving his own chances. Stewards are in a difficult position when faced with a senior jockey such as Buick – a highly accomplished sportsman whose skills in the saddle outstrip their own. What is needed is an automatic penalty in cases of serious interference, forcing jockeys to take extra care to avoid such incidents. Jockeys would be free to give each other that little bit of extra room that improves everyone’s safety, knowing they will not be scolded for it upon dismounting.