Sam Waley-Cohen & Nina Carberry free to ride in Grand National

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Sam Waley-Cohen
Sam Waley-Cohen is a three-time winner of the Foxhunter Chase at Aintree

Amateur jockeys Sam Waley-Cohen and Nina Carberry are free to ride in the Grand National after a U-turn by the British Horseracing Authority.

They looked set to miss out because of riding bans which cover days on which there are races for amateur riders.

After the BBC helped raise a rules anomaly, they have won dispensation to ride at Aintree on 9 April.

However, with jockey bookings still to be finalised, it remains unclear whether they will actually line up.

"Owing to ambiguous wording of the rule, suspensions imposed on Sam Waley-Cohen and Nina Carberry will no longer apply on Grand National day," said a British Horseracing Authority statement.

"This decision follows a representation to this effect being made by Sam Waley-Cohen today."

Waley-Cohen was banned for seven days following his ride on Long Run at Carlisle on Sunday, while Carberry had a similar suspension after her winning effort aboard On The Fringe at Cheltenham last week.

How the confusion arose

The suspensions apply on days where there are races for amateur riders.

There is a race for amateur riders on Grand National day, but it is also open to conditional jockeys, a point raised by the BBC and Waley-Cohen with officials at the BHA who now plan to make changes to the wording for next year to close the loophole.

British Horseracing Authority rules
British Horseracing Authority rules contained a loophole

"The clause relating to National Hunt flat races refers specifically to races confined to amateur riders and conditional jockeys, however the clause relating to hurdle races refers only to races confined to amateur riders," said a BHA spokesman.

"Having now identified the anomaly, the BHA will take steps to amend the schedule in future."

Why was Waley-Cohen banned?

The leading amateur jockey was suspended after he was adjudged to have prematurely stopped riding Long Run in the hunter chase at Carlisle on Sunday.

Stewards ruled 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run, who was retired after the race, could have finished third rather than fifth.

Waley-Cohen, 33, lost his appeal against the ban on Thursday but then raised the rules anomaly.

"It's been a bit of a roller-coaster of a day. From all the disappointment and everything else, the hope is now there. All I need now is a horse," he said.

Both he and Carberry will still miss the Foxhunter Chase on 7 April at the Grand National meeting.

Waley-Cohen has won six times over the National fences, including three Foxhunter victories, more than any other jockey in the modern era.

His best finish in the National itself is runner-up, on Oscar Time in 2011, while Carberry was seventh on Character Building a year earlier.

Sam Waley-Cohen on Twitter
Waley-Cohen reacts to the news on Twitter

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