Top jockey John Velazquez 'stopped from flying to Saudi for world’s richest race in coronavirus rules mix-up'

TOP jockey John Velazquez has apparently been stopped from flying to Saudi Arabia due to a coronavirus rules mix-up.

The iconic Puerto Rican rider, 49, has been forced to give up his ride in the world's richest race.

Velazquez was apparently stopped by airport security when trying to get between terminals for a connecting flight.

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The jockey was set to ride Tacitus in tomorrow's £14.3million Saudi Cup.

But now, according to respected racing reporter Nick Luck, William Buick has been given the mount.

Velazquez's problems come after another jockey, Umberto Rispoli, was not allowed to travel.

Rispoli said he was sitting on the plane ready to fly when removed by stewards.

The Italian jockey, 32, claimed a change to coronavirus protocols in Riyadh forced the change – and it is believed Velazquez has been caught out by the same change.

Rispoli said: "I was ready to fly, my luggage was on the plane, my seatbelt was fastened.

"Before we left the stewards came on and took me off the plane saying Riyadh had, at exactly that moment, changed the Covid test.

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"Before, it was 72 hours prior to the flight. This time Riyadh requested a Covid test within 72 hours once you land in Riyadh.

"It was something that was out of my hands. I'm frustrated and that's why I couldn't go to ride in the Saudi Cup."

Rispoli went onto slam authorities for not being better organised in light of the global pandemic.

He added: "I would say as well this is the biggest race in the world, there should be better organisation behind this and there wouldn't be any issue.

"I pay the consequence of this organisation, which probably they don't pay attention about any details.

"I'm frustrated but wish all the contenders best of luck."

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