Greg Wood

Author's posts

Oct 03

Talking Horses: Non-runners on Tuesday’s cards reveal scale of problem

The British Horseracing Authority is trying to address the issue by publishing a detailed breakdown of the last year’s non-runners trainer by trainer

There are 15 non-runners on Tuesday’s four cards already, including no fewer than nine of the original 68 final declarations on the Flat card at Ayr, which gives a glimpse of the scale of the problem that the British Horseracing Authority is trying to address by publishing a detailed breakdown of the last year’s non-runners by trainer.

The tables published on Monday highlighted several trainers whose non-runner rate is above the threshold level that could trigger a 12-month ban on using the self-certification system to withdraw horses from their yard.

Related: Pat Morris’s non-runner rate revealed as worst of any British trainer

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/oct/03/talking-horses-tuesday-3-october-best-best-horse-racing-ayr-kempton-non-runners-trainers

Oct 02

Pat Morris’s non-runner rate revealed as worst of any British trainer

• Nearly a quarter of Liverpool trainer’s declared runners failed to start
• Morris given six months to reduce high non-runner rate

Pat Morris, who was warned by the British Horseracing Authority six years ago over the high rate of non-runners from his stable, is in danger of becoming the first trainer to lose the right to self-certify his horses after it emerged on Monday that nearly a quarter of all the declared runners from his yard are eventual non-runners.

Morris’s non-runner rate was the worst of any British trainer either on the Flat or over jumps when the BHA published detailed tables of declarations and non‑runners for the first time on Monday, covering the year between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017. The trainer, who runs a small stable near Liverpool, declared 104 horses to run over the 12-month period, of which 24, or 23%, then failed to start.

Related: Jim Crowley: ‘Racing is a tough game. I saw a friend of mine killed in front of me’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/02/pat-morris-non-runner-rate-revealed-as-worst-of-any-british-trainer

Sep 22

Ayr must report to BHA over valuable Gold Cup meeting waterlogging

• Scottish track have confirmed Ayr Gold Cup will not be run this season
• Track to investigate cause of problems which caused abandonment

The British Horseracing Authority has asked Ayr racecourse to report on the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of the track’s three-day Western meeting, due to a small area of waterlogged turf on an otherwise raceable track. The final card of the meeting, including the £200,000 Ayr Gold Cup, was abandoned on Friday morning, just 24 hours after news of the potential problem emerged.

The BHA’s request for more information stops short of a formal investigation, but the regulator will be keen to address the surprise and disappointment among punters and professionals alike at the sudden loss of a meeting offering £700,000 in prize money.

Related: Ayr Gold Cup meeting abandoned due to waterlogged track

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/ayr-report-british-horseracing-authority-over-gold-cup-meeting-abandonment-horse-racing

Sep 05

Irish Turf Club must learn its lesson over Russell ‘punching horse’ case

In future, if a jockey on a British track lashes out at a horse, they can and should expect swift and stern justice. It is to be hoped that the same will now also be true in Ireland

The damaging and extended controversy which began when Davy Russell punched a horse before a race at Tramore on 18 August drew towards a close on Tuesday, when the Irish Turf Club’s appeals panel increased the rider’s punishment to a four-day suspension. Russell received only a caution at an earlier hearing, an outcome that prompted criticism by leading animal-welfare organisations in the UK and Ireland.

Russell’s punch to the head of his mount, Kings Dolly, provoked widespread anger and astonishment when video of the incident circulated widely on social media. The Irish Turf Club will now feel that it has drawn a line under the episode before Irish Champions Weekend, the country’s showpiece Flat meeting which opens on Saturday with stars including Churchill, Winter, Order Of St George and Big Orange due to be in action at Leopardstown and The Curragh.

Related: RSPCA calls Davy Russell punching of horse ‘totally unacceptable’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/05/jockey-davy-russell-suspension-horse-punching-incident

Jul 18

Adam Carter tells horse ‘stopping’ inquiry his ride was due to ‘brain fade’

• Jockey and trainer charged with corruption by BHA
• Rider claims he invented earlier confession

Adam Carter, a former jockey who is alleged to have carried out a “very deliberate, premeditated stop of a horse” at Southwell in 2014, told a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing on Tuesday that he had previously admitted to stopping the horse because he had been “brainwashed” by “family and friends” into believing it was the best thing to do. Carter also claimed his controversial ride was the result of “brain fade”, due to the pressure of an acrimonious break-up with a former girlfriend.

Carter is charged with conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice over the running and riding of Blazeofenchantment, a 4-1 chance who finished seventh of nine runners in a seven-furlong handicap at Southwell on 4 June 2014. John Wainwright, the horse’s trainer, is also facing charges over the controversial ride along with three unlicensed individuals: John Wright, Paul Bradley and Peter Bennett.

Related: Sarah Harrison the punters’ champion at the Gambling Commission

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/18/adam-carter-tells-horse-racing-british-horseracing-authority-inquiry-ride-was-brain-fade

Jul 06

BHA admits ‘issue’ as Royal Parks wins race 24 hours after colic withdrawal

• Horse was scratched on vet’s certificate a day before success
• Governing body concerned about the perception of the public

The British Horseracing Authority said on Thursday that it is “aware that public perception is an issue” when horses are scratched from races on a vet’s certificate but compete again soon afterwards, following the easy success of Royal Parks in a race at Haydock on Thursday afternoon less than 24 hours after the same horse was taken out of a race at Kempton Park as it was suffering from colic.

Royal Parks, whose trainer James Tate is a qualified vet, romped to a three-and-a-half-length success in the Longines Irish Champions Weekend Novice Stakes, having been scratched from a less valuable novice event at Kempton on Wednesday evening.

Related: Musselburgh meetings may be scrapped due to bitter internal row

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/06/bha-kempton-haydock-racing-royal-parks

Jul 04

Horse at centre of Cheltenham Festival doping inquiry possible Perth runner

• Anseanachai Cliste down to run at Scottish track on Thursday
• Blood-covered syringe reportedly found in box on Gold Cup day

Anseanachai Cliste, a nine-year-old chaser at the centre of a possible doping inquiry triggered by events at the Cheltenham Festival on Gold Cup day, remains a possible runner at Perth on Thursday after being withdrawn from two engagements at the same track on Wednesday.

Stephen McConville, who trains Anseanachai Cliste in Portadown, County Armagh, and his son Michael, who has ridden the horse regularly in point-to-point events, have been under investigation by the British Horseracing Authority since the horse was taken out of the Foxhunters’ Chase, the race after the Gold Cup, at Cheltenham on 17 March.

Related: Talking Horses: French rider urges use of female weight claim elsewhere

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/04/horse-anseanachai-cliste-centre-cheltenham-festival-horse-racing-doping-inquiry-perth-runner

May 31

Racing news and tips: Gina Mangan refused entry to the Derby

• BHA says it is in the ‘best interests’ of the sport to not accept declaration
• 1,000-1 outsider, due to be ridden by apprentice jockey, snubbed

Diore Lia, the no-hoper whose presence in the field for the Derby has divided opinion in racing, will miss Saturday’s Classic after the British Horseracing Authority refused to accept the declaration of Gina Mangan, an apprentice rider with no experience of Epsom, as the filly’s jockey.

Richard Aylward, Diore Lia’s owner, decided to take her out of the race on Wednesday evening after being informed of the BHA’s decision. Earlier, Mangan had picked up a four-day ban for careless riding in an apprentice handicap at Kempton Park. In a statement on Wednesday evening Jamie Stier, the BHA’s chief regulatory officer, said that it would be “in the best interests of racing” for Mangan’s declaration to be refused by the regulator.

Related: Jim Best: ‘All the fun I’ve had over the years has been taken out of me’

Related: Racing news and tips: John Gosden allays Enable fears over Oaks

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/31/racing-news-tips-bha-accounts-best-case

May 18

Hughie Morrison faces 10-year training ban after horse fails drug test

• Trainer in shock after steroid test on filly proves positive
• Our Little Sister tested after finishing last in all-weather race in January

The British Horseracing Authority said on Thursday afternoon that it has charged the trainer Hughie Morrison with a serious breach of the anti-doping rules after traces of the anabolic steroid nandrolone and one of its metabolites were found in a sample taken from his filly Our Little Sister after a race at Wolverhampton on 14 January.

Morrison, who has enjoyed three victories in Group 1 events and saddled almost 800 winners in a 21-year training career, insisted that he is mystified by the positive test, which was returned by one of the poorest horses in his stable after she had finished last of eight runners. He learned of the positive result when a team of BHA investigators conducted a dawn raid in early February and tested all 77 horses in his stable in East Ilsley, Berkshire, for steroids. All the horses, including Our Little Sister, tested negative.

Related: Silvestre de Sousa plays down title chances despite treble at Ascot

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/18/hughie-morrison-faces-long-training-ban-horse-racing-fails-drugs-test-our-little-sister

Jan 14

Government announces long-awaited levy reform boost for racing

• New deal will net the sport 10% of bookies’ profits above £0.5m
• April start planned for scheme which will replace system from 1961

British racing has moved significantly closer to a stable, long-term funding regime after Tracey Crouch MP, the sports minister, confirmed on Friday that all betting operators, including online firms based offshore, will be required to return 10% of their gross profits from racing bets back to the sport from April this year.

As a result, racing can expect to receive about £90m per year in direct income from betting for at least the next seven years, and see an end to the almost annual disputes with bookmakers over a “fair” return from betting which have been a feature of the previous Levy system since its introduction in 1961.

Related: BHA remains confident of hitting £100m funding target after Levy reform

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/14/government-levy-reform-boost-horse-racing

Dec 19

BHA bans Paul Gilligan for six months over Uttoxeter ‘flapping’ horse

• Unusual markings on 14-1 winner led to Irish trainer’s disqualification
• Gilligan case has echoes of that brought by BHA against trainer Jim Best

The Irish trainer Paul Gilligan has been disqualified from racing for six months for running a horse at Uttoxeter that had previously competed in an unlicensed “flapping” meeting in Ireland. The ban came after the rehearing of a disciplinary case that was initially heard by a panel that included the lawyer Matthew Lohn.

The penalty handed down on Monday is identical to that issued by the earlier hearing in March, which inquired into the running of a horse called Dubawi Phantom at Uttoxeter in June 2014. Dubawi Phantom was backed at long odds and ran out a cosy half-length winner of the race at 14-1.

Related: Jim Best case fallout may result in BHA reopening seven cases

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/19/bha-ban-paul-gilligan-uttoxeter-flapping-horse-racing

Dec 14

Panel tells BHA it needed clear rules to ban trainer Jim Best for longer

• Disciplinary body hamstrung by lack of guidelines
• Conditional jockey told to stop two horses in races

The independent disciplinary panel which decided that the trainer Jim Best had ordered Paul John, a conditional jockey, to stop two horses in races last December published the reasons for its imposition of a six-month suspension on the trainer on Wednesday , and suggested as it did so that if the British Horseracing Authority wished to see a sterner penalty for such a serious offence, it should amend its sentencing guidelines to reflect that.

However, its reasons did little to dispel widespread surprise that an offence which, in the panel’s own words, involved “dishonest practices” that “strike at the heart of racing’s integrity” had resulted in what appeared to many in the sport to be an extremely lenient penalty.

Related: Trainer Jim Best found guilty of ordering jockey to stop two horses

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/14/racing-trainer-jim-best-ban-bha-disciplinary-panel

Dec 08

Graham Gibbons takes time out after Kempton urine-sample swap accusation

• All-weather championship leader had one ride at Wednesday fixture
• Stewards held inquiry following a report from the clerk of the scales

Graham Gibbons, the leading jockey on the all-weather circuit this winter, has agreed to stand himself down “with immediate, indefinite effect” pending an inquiry into an incident at Kempton Park on Wednesday evening when he is alleged to have swapped a urine sample with one provided by a fellow jockey, Callum Shepherd.

Gibbons, who has a record of offences and suspensions related to alcohol, and Shepherd, an apprentice rider, were among at least 10 jockeys randomly selected to provide a sample by a British Horseracing Authority drug-testing team.

Related: Graham Gibbons is back on Hoof It and in search of Group One redemption

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/08/graham-gibbons-accused-swapping-kempton-urine-sample