Sunday, July 05, 2009

Points of view

Yesterday Sea The Stars confirmed his superstar status at Sandown, winning the Eclipse a shade comfortably. In post-race interviews trainer John Oxx indicated the Irish Champion Stakes was the long-term aim, where a re-match with Fame And Glory could be on the cards. In the meantime, the King George at Ascot or the International at York are possible targets. The Sporting Life reports that Hills are offering 5/1 the colt remains unbeaten in 2009. If I struck that bet and the horse subsequently suffered an injury which meant he didn't run again during the season, I wonder if I could collect...

It's been a week the jumping community won't want to remember in a hurry...

In a beginners' chase at Stratford on Tuesday evening, an old friend Mistanoora made a mistake at the water, broke a leg and had to be put down. The following day there was something of a debacle at Worcester when Highland Laddie collapsed from heat exhaustion after finishing third in the opener. The horse was eventually revived but only after 800 gallons of water had been used, leaving no reserves for other runners on a scorching day. The rest of the card had to be abandoned. Summer jumping has been staple fare at Worcester for some time; these latest events led to a RSPCA advisor expressing his concern over the summer jumps programme and in particular horses landing on ground that is quicker than good.

On Friday Nicky Henderson was handed a record £40,000 fine and banned from making entries for three months (11th July - 10th October) after being found guilty of allowing the anti-bleeding drug tranexamic acid (TA) to be administered to the Queen's mare Moonlit Path before she raced in the TurfTV Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon on February 19th 2009. The reasons for the decision are given in full on the BHA website. I haven't gone through this document with a fine toothcomb but here are some basic points:

- on the day of a race a horse is allowed only food and water;
- TA is a prohibited substance and was given to Moonlit Path on the day of the race;
- Nicky Henderson broke the Rules of Racing;
- vet James Main, who adminstered the drug, refused to give evidence to the Enquiry;
- the omission of any mention of the injection in the Medication Book was 'part of a systematic attempt to conceal ... the use of TA';
- several racing commentators see the punishment as fair.

Having said all that, every cloud has its silver lining... Writing in Saturday's Times, Alan Lee hinted that it was unlikely the Queen would move her horses from Henderson's stable. Added to that, the three month ban has fallen at the most opportune time for Henderson, a time when the stable traditionally has few runners. Taking figures published in the Racing Post Weekender on 5th March 2008, the stable had 96 runners in the months of July, August and September over the preceding ten year period. From the month of November through to the following April, the core National Hunt season, the stable had 3451 runners over the preceding ten years.

Finally, Mrs Tips sends her apologies. She is exhausted having sat in front of the TV all afternoon watching the Men's Final - she has no energy left to write up her Wimbledon report from last week.

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