Waley-Cohen free for King George VI

By James Masters, December 12, 2011

Sam Waley-Cohen has escaped missing out on the King George VI Chase – despite being punished with a 12-day riding ban.

Waley-Cohen, who will ride Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run on Boxing Day, took the wrong turn at the Fakenham course while out on front on Otage De Brion.

The Fakenham stewards found the amateur jockey guilty of taking the wrong course and handed him a suspension which starts on January 1.

But as Waley-Cohen is not a professional, he will be allowed to compete on December 26 as the ban only applies to days where there are races for amateurs.

"To be honest, what actually happened is I thought he'd swallowed his tongue," he said after the race.

"He landed and just made a hell of a noise. He's had an operation before and we normally have a tongue-tie on him, but didn't today.

"I knew where I was going. He's one of those horses who's very in and out and one of the problems we've had with him is his breathing."

Waley-Cohen rode Long Run to victories in the King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup last season and is the only jockey to have saddled the horse in Britain.

"I've spoken to the stewards and given them my excuse. I've also seen the way it looked and I accept it doesn't look good," Waley-Cohen added on At The Races.

"I have to take it on the chin. I'm obviously disappointed."

Father Robert Waley-Cohen added: "It's a huge relief and I'm thrilled for him to be able to show what he's made of."

Last updated: 11:22am, December 13 2011