At Leopardstown last Sunday Bishops Road beat Heathfield by a head in a modest handicap chase.
Given it was an afternoon when Hurricane Fly and Un De Sceaux were quite superb that particular contest was miles down the pecking order when it came to degrees of importance.
But it is worth a lot more than just a passing reference, when you consider what happened through the final hundred yards or so.
Bishops Road’s jockey, Bryan Copper, hit the challenging Heathfield across the head on two occasions with his whip. He clearly didn’t mean to do it, but that’s not the point.
A stewards’ inquiry seemed inevitable, but none was called. So, Heathfield’s jockey, Ruby Walsh, with just a head, no pun intended, between the principals, then objected.
It was not the first time something like this had happened and precedent told us that Walsh’s perfectly understandable protestation was doomed to failure.
Let’s drift back for a second to Dundalk on December 10 of last year and a one-mile maiden won by Michael Halford’s Shannon Soul.
I had no financial interest in the race at Leopardstown, but had a bucket of stuff, by my standards, on Shannon Soul.
Anyway, he made every yard of the running to narrowly beat Solomon Northup. But Shane Foley, who rode Shannon Soul and has a somewhat wide whip action, clearly hit the second across the head in the closing stages.
As at Leopardstown no inquiry was called by the stewards and it was left to Solomon Northup’s trainer, Charles O’Brien, to lodge an objection to the winner. It was, of course, dismissed.
In my humble opinion the stewards at both Leopardstown and Dundalk should surely have called an inquiry in the first place.
Is it possible that they actually failed to see what had happened and were only awakened from their slumbers when objections were lodged?
I have a real memory of what occurred on that Dundalk night and could not believe an inquiry wasn’t called.
Shannon Soul and Bishops Road kept their respective races because, as I understand it, the stewards weren’t satisfied they had improved their placings.
But they couldn’t be sure they hadn’t either and so the ‘rule’ is obviously just plain stupid.
In calls as close as these giving the benefit of the doubt to the sinner, rather than the sinned, cannot be right. To my mind Shannon Soul and Bishops Road should both have been disqualified.
When objecting at Leopardstown, Walsh had to lodge €100.00. To add insult to injury the stewards found that his objection was frivolous, presumably, and he was ordered to forfeit the money.
I’ll tell you what wasn’t frivolous, it was the failure of the stewards to instigate an inquiry almost the moment the horses had passed the post. Their inaction forced Walsh to act, as it had Charles O’Brien at Dundalk.
Oh, and by the way, I can find no record of O’Brien having to forfeit his cash at Dundalk. Love to know what the difference was between the two cases?
Tony McCoy doesn’t half divide opinion. In Britain he enjoys almost god-like status, but it not regarded like that, I think, in his home country.
Certainly, there are plenty in Ireland who believe he doesn’t get on with Jezki, and others, at all and several of them reside in the press room. He’s ridden Jezki seven times and has won just three on him. I thought his tactics on the horse against Hurricane Fly last Sunday left lots to be desired, when he neither piddled nor got off the pot!
Barry Geraghty, it must be noted, is unbeaten in five races aboard Jezki, including last year’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
I’m far from convinced as well that McCoy is the right man for Gilgamboa. That horse went to Leopardstown as a brilliant jumper, quick and accurate, but with McCoy in the plate for the first time over fences made a totally uncharacteristic blunder at the fifth last.
The only other time McCoy rode him was in Vautour’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March when Gilgamboa blundered away his chance two out.
In any case, McCoy has been coming over to Ireland for a number of years now, but more often than not returns with little or nothing to show for his endeavours. Food for thought, I think!
Un De Sceaux’s savage display in the Arkle at Leopardstown speaks for itself and he really is something of a freak.
The most exciting two-mile front-runner I’ve ever seen was the mare Anaglogs Daughter. You can see her winning the Arkle at Cheltenham by a street in 1980 on YouTube. Un De Sceaux has to be regarded now as very much in that category.
There seems to be general satisfaction with the attendance at Leopardstown of 8,216, up 880 on the previous year.
But do you know what, I think it was disappointing. The weather was perfect and the racing could hardly have been any better.
But here we are on the outskirts of Dublin and it is all Leopardstown could manage.
That’s just not good enough.
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