Martin Dwyer will be fighting to clear his name in India this weekend as his appeal against an eight-month suspension is heard.
The Derby-winning jockey was initially given a 56-day ban following a race in February, which he was already appealing, but was hit with a revised sentence at a hearing in Mumbai.
Dwyer, 38, finished a narrow third on market leader Ice Age at Mahalaxmi racecourse on February 17, which prompted an angry response from racegoers.
His initial suspension was due to run from April 6 to May 31 this year – but the stewards of the Royal Western India Turf Club, who ruled the filly was not ridden on her merits, recently concluded Dwyer should be given a far stiffer punishment.
Speaking in an interview with Cornelius Lysaght to be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live this evening, Dwyer said: “It’s been hanging over for me for the whole year and it’s been quite a stressful time.
“I’ve been fighting this for a long time, because I’m not guilty of what they’ve found me guilty of. I’m fighting to clear my name.
“When they increased it to eight months, it’s just added more worry and more pressure. The thought of losing my livelihood for eight months is just not nice. I’ve got a family and bills to pay, it’s horrible.”
A head-on video of the race showed Ice Age appearing to drift towards the rail in the closing stages, bumping the eventual runner-up and causing Dwyer to snatch up his mount.
But Dwyer believes the fact the filly was bleeding after the race is clear evidence that he was not blame.
“Anybody who knows anything about horseracing can see I was doing everything in my power to try and win a race,” he said.
“I’m just confused how anybody can find me guilty of not letting her run on her merits when she was clearly sick.”
He added: “I’m riding winners and things are going great – I rode a big winner the other day – but I enjoy it for a couple of minutes and then my mind goes back to this problem. It’s just very unfair.”
Dwyer confirmed he will continue to fight the suspension even if his Indian appeal is dismissed, with plans to ask the British Horseracing Authority not to reciprocate the ban.