Suspended jockey Fletcher to challenge commission ruling in the judicial court
Impressive debutante Ability in full flight with Samantha Fletcher aboard. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

While they were successful in getting a five-day reduction of the initial 25-day suspension handed down to Samantha Fletcher, representatives of the female jockey believe it was still insufficient and, as such, are taking the matter to the courts.

In fact Ed Barnes, along with attorney Douglas Thompson, are not only ruing the excessive ruling but they also believe the process of arriving at the decision didn't present their client with a fair shot at proving her innocence.

On March 7, 2023 Fletcher was punished for not riding her mount on merit. The incident happened on February 4 when Fletcher rode Gone A Negril in the seventh race of the day, finishing in seventh place.

"We had the appeal heard on Tuesday, March 21 and the commission suggested that they were willing to reduce it [suspension] by five race days. Our team, myself, and the attorney felt that was not good because they did not prove that there was wrongdoing, and also the process that was used was certainly not proper. And so, we are taking it to the Supreme Court for a juridical review," Barnes told the Jamaica Observer.

Samantha Fletcher has her initial 25-day suspension downgraded to 20 race days.(Photo: Naphtali Junior)

"I don't know of them bringing in any evidence of her being guilty; it was merely somebody looking at a film and deciding that something was amiss. But if a rider said that they had their doubts, and based on what the stewards told them that they should pull out and not endanger other people's lives, that is what she did and that was her explanation," the veteran sports journalist said.

After a four-member steward panel handed down the suspension, Barnes found it comical that one of the said stewards who initially handed down the punishment to Fletcher was also a part of the appeal hearing.

"People who sat on the committee that charged her can't be the people to hear the appeal; it must be independent people who have no business there, and so any court that looks at this is going to throw it out. "The same race that they saw nothing wrong with on the day is the same race they are looking at days after. It is them saying that they look at a film and decided that there was something amiss and it should be further looked into.

"They are the ones who decided that, but on that committee is one of the stewards who judged her - and in natural justice that can't be allowed. You can't just accuse me and then judge me and sentence me," Barnes said.

Meanwhile, the Observer has learnt that the Jamaica Racing Commission was advised by their attorneys not to comment on the issue.

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