Mystery surrounded an eyecatching gamble and subsequent stewards’ withdrawal of Like A Diamond in the Tote Win 24% Better Than Bookmakers SP Maiden at Ballinrobe last night after officials announced they were concerned the three-year-old was not in the care of his stated trainer.
An unraced gelding, Like A Diamond was initially priced up at 50-1 by bookmakers before he was rapidly shortened, reaching a low of 11-4 with Paddy Power for the 1m 1f maiden.
The stewards received a report from Chris Gordon, Turf Club senior security officer, who stated Like A Diamond was not trained at the registered licensed premises of Sharon Dunphy at Drish, Thurles, Co Tipperary but at another premises in the neighbourhood.
Evidence was heard from Dunphy which included her acceptance of Gordon’s report into the matter.
Evidence was also heard from groom Fabian Burke, who had entered the racecourse stables on a temporary pass to work for Dunphy last night.
Having considered the report and the subsequent evidence and in particular the admission by Dunphy that Like A Diamond was not trained from her licensed training establishment as required by rule 147 (vi), the stewards ordered the horse’s withdrawal and referred the matter to the Turf Club.
The gamble was described as “a bit funny” by Liam Glynn of Boylesports, who said: “We inserted it at 33-1 this morning and we had quite significant support all morning and were forced to go 16-1, then 10s, 7s and I think we got as low as 3-1.
“It came across as a genuine gamble, this wasn’t just a bookies’ move, although it was a bit funny as the trainer had not had a winner since St Stephen’s Day [December 26].”
The race was won by the Dermot Weld-trained Train Of Thought, visored for the first time and dropping significantly in trip, who made all to slam favourite Pastiches by seven and a half lengths.
Apprentice sensation Connor King again proved his star quality when bringing the Harry Rogers-trained mare Strandfield Lady with a perfectly-timed challenge to foil Hes Our Music in the Tote Jackpot Guarantee Rated Race.
The Youghal teenager gave the eight-year-old a patient ride and refused to panic when she was bumped by the runner-up with more than two furlongs to race. Instead, he nursed his mount into contention before pouncing in the last hundred years to triumph by threequarters of a length, providing King with his 16th win of the season.
Rogers indicated that the mare might reappear at Down Royal on Friday before tackling a conditions event on the Friday of Galway.
Cullentry Royal and Train Of Thought, the two horses which chased home Writers Block in the controversial amateur riders’ event at Leopardstown recently, opened their respective accounts on the flat last night.
Delivered late by Billy Lee, Cullentry Royal got up to confirm earlier Leopardstown form with Storm Away in the opening Tote Placepot Maiden, prompting trainer Gordon Elliott (narrowly denied a double when Hold On Cowboy failed by a nose to catch Willie Austin’s Milanphardantetime in the Tote Trifecta Rollover Handicap Hurdle) to comment. “It’s grand to win with him after what happened in Leopardstown. I’ll have to talk to Barry (owner Barry Connell), but he’ll probably run in a flat handicap in Galway.”
Michael Grassick, who took over the licence from his father and namesake in January, registered his first success as a trainer when Only Exception, ridden by David Casey, proved best in the mares maiden hurdle, getting the better of Via Del Corso, whose trainer David Kelly enjoyed better luck in the finale with the John Cullen-ridden King William.
Apprentice Leigh Roche, from nearby Tuam, was on the mark on board Prunella Dobbs’ Sian in the apprentice handicap, the Antonius Pius filly staying on too strongly for Crouching Harry.
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