Mix-up leaves punters fuming


Hundreds of frustrated race goers were left waiting long after the conclusion of the action at Ludlow yesterday while the stewards deliberated on the controversial outcome of. 1the hunter chase. The major incident occurred at the fifth last fence where Lawrence Squires had fallen from Watch it Lad on the first circuit.

The fence men originally dolled off the obstacle with chevrons and orange markers, but by the time the remaining five runners approached the fence on the second circuit Squire was in the ambulance and the fence men were in the process of removing the warning signs.

Although the directional chevron marker had been. removed two orange warning markers still remained, throwing obvious confusion into the minds of the five jockeys.

Jo Creighton riding West Quay, and tracking the field, was the only one of the five to jump the fence with the remaining four runners by passing the obstacle on the right hand side. He eventually finished in second place behind first past the post Oaklands Word.

After deliberating on the incident for 65 minutes the stewards decided that the placings' should remain unaltered. This in effect meant that the winner Oaklands Word kept the race, despite the fact that he and three of the other four finishers had jumped a fence less than the runner up.

The trainer of West Quay, Tim Long, said that he would be appealing against the decision.

Meanwhile at Ascot, champion jockey elect Tony McCoy came in for praise after landing the day's most valuable event the £20,000 Daily Telegraph Novices Chase on former selling hurdler Southampton.

After seeing Southampton head the stumbling Destiny Calls at the last fence before gaining a four length success, trainer Toby Balding said. "In the history of sport this has to be one of the most meteoric rises of all time.

"Tony has a great aptitude and horses run for him. He has got a racing brain, is a great reader of pace and is now the most proficient rider over fences you could wish to see."

Balding, who encouraged McCoy to come over from Ireland two years ago, added "He's riding as a freelance and that is how I'd advise him to stay."

The Punchestown Festival later this month is the next target for Go Ballistic, who finally fired, in the Fairview Newhomes Novices Chase, to continue Grand National winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald's winner a day sequence.

Rising star Richard Johnson produced what trainer David Nicholson described as "the ride of the season" to win on Newton Point.

Johnson (18), the season's top conditional jockey, was hard at work throughout the three mile Alpine Meadow Handicap Hurdle on the favourite. But his perseverance paid off as his lazy partner collared Clifton Set, on whom Richard Dunwoody attempted to make all, halfway up the run in to score by three quarters of a length.