Short-changed punters are once again the only losers

AT Tipperary on June 17, the stewards thought it was fine for Robert Rower, in a conditions chase, to just push out Bobs Pride hands and heels and, as a result, get him beaten a short head by Don’t Be Bitin. Bobs Pride went off a heavily-backed 15-8 favourite.

At Tipperary on May 20 the stewards on duty that evening took an entirely different view of the riding of a horse called Ballyronan Boy in a seven furlongs plus flat race.

They decided the racecourse had been used as a training ground and the 66-1 shot was suspended from racing for 60 days, trainer, Michael O’Connell, fined 1,500 and jockey, Ronan Whelan, suspended for seven days.

So what was the greater crime, the so-called tender handling of a no-hoper, or the undoubted tender handling of a horse who was carrying the money of numerous punters nationwide?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving a horse an easy time, nursing him and asking for the bare minimum, as long as it wins.

Paul Carberry, for instance, is a master at it and his antics sometimes raises the possibility of a heart attack, if you are on one of his travelling especially well in the closing stages.

But Carberry nearly always gets away with such behaviour and once a horse he’s partnering, which is the medium of a cheeky drive, delivers then all is immediately well with the world.

But when such tactics go wrong and, in Power’s case dramatically wrong, then surely there have to be consequences.

Not according to the Tipperary stewards. Power attempted to do a Carberry and gave Bobs Pride as easy a race as possible.

For most of the long run in - the final fence wasn’t jumped - he looked sure to get away with it and that Bobs Pride would squeeze home.

But amateur rider Michael Fogarty, on Don’t Be Bitin, literally threw the kitchen sink at his mount and, when they hit the line, the whole thing had blown up in Power’s face as Bobs Pride went down by a short head.

Could Power have done more? Of course he could and a lot more. Indeed, he was quoted by Claire Barry in the Irish Field as saying: “I didn’t hit him and, in my opinion, he’ll improve for the run.”

Oh well that’s everything okay then and the punters, who were completely short-changed, would have to feel a lot better after reading that little nugget.

It’s not as if Power is a 7lbs claimer. No, he’s a top professional, good enough to guide Silver Birch to win the Aintree Grand National in 2007.

Punters were furious after the race and you could hear the mutterings, as the horses returned to the parade ring.

But, typically, in this God-forsaken politically correct era in which we now live, nothing was said, as Power headed back to the sanctuary of the weigh-room. Twenty years ago, or even ten, maybe, he mightn’t have been so lucky.

Remember, the famous Cash Asmussen story at the Phoenix Park, when he got beaten on a beast of Vincent O’Brien’s, by a short head I think?

“You wouldn’t ride Cathy Barry”, screamed the voice at Cash, as he shuffled away from the inglorious number two berth.

Quick as a flash, however, Cash retorted: “Give me her number and I’ll give her a berl.”

At least someone got some satisfaction at the Park that afternoon, hell even Cash seemed to knock a modicum of enjoyment out of the episode.

All we got at Tipperary was a deathly silence, from everyone.


COULDN’T stop laughing as it became increasingly clear just how much the bookmakers lost at Royal Ascot last week.

They estimated it was as much as £50m - what a shame it wasn’t twice that. Here’s one who has no problem with on-course layers winning, they have the courage to stand up and risk their own money.

But the more the off-course firms lose, driven by accountants and whose mantra is ‘thou shalt not win’, the more they get slaughtered then the more enjoyable it all is.

But don’t worry there are sufficient mugs around to ensure that the natural order will be restored, sooner rather than later.

Bookmaker, Barry Dennis, summed it up best when interviewed on ATR, admitting he had done in £70,000.

“I’m 70 years-of-age, have been coming here for 45 years and this is the first time I’ve lost at the meeting”, related Dennis.

Best moment had to be Rite Of Passage winning the Gold Cup, on the back of finishing third previously at the Cheltenham Festival.

Dermot Weld is one of the very few who could pull off a trick like that. You would have to describe it as an extraordinary training feat by an amazing man.

You only had to be in the press room at Tipperary to realise how much pleasure Rite Of Passage’s success gave to so many people.

When the largely cynical press corps are overwhelmingly on your side then you must be doing something ‘rite.’

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