By Colin Mackenzie
Russell Baze, North America's most winning jockey with more than 10,000 victories during his career, will long remember his first ride in Europe at Ascot, which cost him a four-day whip ban.
Baze, who celebrated his 50th birthday Aug. 7, was found guilty by Ascot stewards of hitting his horse, Mac Gille Eoin, 17 times during the five-furlong Shergar Cup Dash and not giving his mount time to respond to the whip. The pair eventually finished sixth of the ten runners.
Baze was a member of the "Rest of the World" team of jockeys alongside Japanese ace Yutaka Take and the Brazilian champion Jorge Ricardo, who beat the Northern California-based rider to the 10,000-win plateau, taking over as the winning most jockey in the world in February 2007. Ricardo now has 10,299 wins against Baze's 10,234 (through Aug. 8).
Neither of them was able to add to their totals at a rain swept Ascot, which featured six races at distances from five furlongs to two miles in a four-way contest between jockeys from Great Britain, Ireland, Europe and the Rest of the World.
He is banned from Aug. 25-28.
"I have been told that if I apply to the British Horseracing Board Aug. 11, I may be able to change the dates of my ban which kicks in 11 days from today. I am seeking the advice of my friend and former jockey John Lowe, who is going to help me with what I need to do.
"I have enjoyed my time in England. Ascot is a fantastic course--there is a good crowd of 33,000 people here, and we've had a great reception from everyone. I'm excited to be here."
Stipendiary steward Colin Vickers explained the reasons for the ban.
"I went through all the rules with the jockeys before racing,” he said. “They all had time to ask me questions. This was too serious to ignore, and it wasn't just the frequency with which he hit the horse. He did not give the horse time to respond to the whip."
Baze came closest to victory in the Shergar Cup Sprint when partnering Al Muheer into second place behind Gerald Mosse, who was riding Shifting Star. He added a further second placing when runner-up in the final race of the day, the Shergar Cup Mile, on Ace of Hearts, beaten by Mosse and Perfect Star. At least he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had done better than Ricardo, whose day ended pointless.
European captain Mosse won the riding honors of the tournament with two victories and a couple of placings, which earned him 50 points, ahead of Take, who had two victories on Strike Up The Band in the Dash and on Nans Joy in the Distaff while totaling 37 points.
The Shergar Cup, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, was won by the European team, which included Mosse, Italian ace Mirco Demuro and Turkish champion jockey Halis Karatas. They beat the Rest of the World team (57 points) with Great Britain (54) third and Ireland (44) fourth.