Chris Cook at Cheltenham

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Jan 01

Adam Wedge banned after steering hot favourite around fence at Exeter

• Jockey suspended 21 days after admitting ‘brain freeze’ on Report To Base• Tom Bellamy prevented from riding after breath test at CheltenhamA jump jockey’s life is tough enough without self-inflicted injuries but two riders made things harder for the…

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Mar 01

Handicapper Smith defends weights after latest ‘anti-Irish bias’ accusations

• Phil Smith resists Irish owner’s call to publish ratings
• Michael O’Leary withdraws best horses from Grand National

The senior handicapper has mounted a robust defence of the weights given to Irish horses when they run in Britain, insisting “there is no semblance of any anti-Irish bias”. Phil Smith made his statement at an media event here to promote the Cheltenham Festival in a fortnight’s time, when he also resisted an Irish owner’s call to publish the ratings which Smith and his team keep for Irish horses.

Smith argued that Irish raiders still enjoy a disproportionate amount of success at the Festival despite his team’s policy of generating a new rating for each Irish-based horse rather than simply accepting the Irish handicapper’s figure. “Just concentrating on here in the Festival, there’s been 11 Festivals where we’ve kept our own ratings,” he said. “The British strike-rate has been 4% and the Irish strike-rate has been 6.2%. So if anybody could have a complaint it would be the guys here, not the people over the Irish Sea.”

Related: Outlander is big hope as Gordon Elliott looks to improve his Festival numbers

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