Andrea Atzeni was suspended for two days for a riding offence at Longchamp racecourse in France on 6 October. The penalty imposed by France Galop is scheduled to run on 20 and 21 October. The BHA reciprocated this penalty, as is routine for suspensions incurred in other recognised racing jurisdictions.
On Monday the BHA received a call from a representative of Mr Atzeni making an application that one day of the suspension – 20 October, the day of British Champions Day – be moved, which riders are permitted to do with suspensions of four days or less in Britain. Owing to a procedural error Mr Atzeni’s representative was mistakenly informed that this application could be approved and that he was free to move the suspension and therefore ride on Champions Day. He was subsequently declared to ride three horses.
France Galop have this afternoon contacted the BHA to alert us to this issue and to query why Mr Atzeni was being permitted to ride on Champions Day. As the suspension was imposed by France Galop, the BHA has no power to alter the date of the suspension. Therefore the application could and should not have been approved. Andrea Atzeni is suspended from riding on 20 and 21 October and this suspension must stand.
The French system allows riders to request to remove and not serve one day of suspension per year. Unfortunately Mr Atzeni has already used this concession in 2018 and therefore this option is not available to him.
Mr Atzeni’s representative was contacted as soon as the issue came to light, and the trainers of the horses he was due to ride have been asked to make alternative arrangements.