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Saturday 16 December 2017

Losing out on Epsom Derby dream is a bitter pill to swallow, says jockey Gina

Apprentice jockey Gina Mangan. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty
Apprentice jockey Gina Mangan. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Ryan Nugent

The week began with Gina Mangan dreaming big, ahead of a surprise Epsom Derby ride - but as 20 jockeys get set to race this afternoon, she feels "robbed" for not being one of them.

The Co Meath apprentice jockey was dramatically cut from the most famous flat track race by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). It used a discretionary power to do so, over apparent concerns about her inexperience.

Having been due to ride 1,000/1 shot Diore Lia in aid of charity, Gina was stripped of what she believes would have been her one and only opportunity.

The Dunshauglin rider (25) who graduated from the renowned Race academy in Kildare in 2008, explained that when she was initially told she was cut, she thought somebody was messing with her.

She thought it was a joke.

"It was a rollercoaster. I won't lie, I've had better days," Ms Mangan told the Irish Independent.

"I guess it is what it is and what's done is done now, but it's a bitter pill to swallow," she added.

She was informed on Wednesday evening that she was not accepted by the BHA.

The filly's owner and breeder Richard Aylward had initially planned on pulling from the race entirely because of the unfairness of the situation.

But he changed his mind, due to money he was hoping to raise for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London.

He did cite how British Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton was allowed to ride at Cheltenham as an example of his disgust, labelling it "elitist", while saying that Ms Mangan had been crying when he broke it to her.

She told the Irish Independent: "At the end of the day I'm still an apprentice, I'm not proven as such yet, so I'll just take it on the chin and keep doing what I'm doing.

"I really do feel like I'm hard done by. I really feel robbed, but I've got to pick myself up and bounce back from this."

Asked of the heartbreak of it all, she admitted she did get upset, but played it down.

"Yeah I was (a bit emotional) yesterday when I met Richard, he was pretty upset too," she explained.

"There was a little bit of waterworks, but we don't show weakness in this sport.

"It would have meant everything to me, knowing that it was a once off and it won't ever happen again.

"I'm never going to be offered the chance to ride in the Derby again," she added.

Many, including the Irish Injured Jockey's group, have come out in support of the rider, insisting she should have been allowed to race. "I don't do stupid things when I race, I know what to do and what not to do," she said.

"There was never any concern to me that I would put anyone else in danger or myself in danger. I could have anticipated the race."

While missing out on her dream, she has insisted that people should get behind the charitable cause.

Irish Independent

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