Irish jockey suspended for dead horse video

DUBLIN (AP) — An amateur jockey from Ireland has been suspended for one year after admitting he sat on a dead horse in a 2016 incident caught on video.

Robert James, a winner at the Cheltenham Festival last year, showed “extremely poor judgement” and damaged the sport’s reputation, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board said in its decision published Thursday. The last eight months of his one-year ban were suspended.

The board last week suspended trainer Gordon Elliott’s license for a year for a similar offense, with six months suspended.

The suspension of James’ rider’s license and handler’s permit takes effect Monday. He was also ordered to pay 1,000 euros ($1,190) in costs.

“The committee is of the view that the video shows extremely poor judgement by Mr. James and a complete absence of respect for the deceased animal,” the board said. “It has understandably resulted in a public outcry and offended all those who are involved in the racing industry and beyond.”

The 27-year-old James had previously apologized after the video circulated on social media this month.

The horse — a 5-year-old mare — had just suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during exercise. James was assisting in removal of the animal, and in the video he was seen straddling the dead horse while others watched and laughed.

The board noted that James was 22 years old at the time and felt “peer pressure” from others.

“The whole incident took approximately 11 seconds and it is clear that Mr. James was encouraged by a senior member of staff to mount the dead animal.

“He stated he felt immediate regret for his actions and patted the animal by way of a remorseful gesture,” the board said.

The board added that James’ reputation is “otherwise beyond reproach.”

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