Racing officials defend decision to skip fences due to low sun

Champion trainer Willie Mullins described Naas meeting last Monday as farcical

Naas  Racecourse. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Naas Racecourse. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Regulatory officials have defended the process by which obstacles get omitted from races due to a low elevation of the sun after criticism by Willie Mullins.

The champion trainer described last Monday’s action at Naas, when four races had no jumps in the straight, as a “farce” and said omitting jumps has been causing problems too often this season.

“I thought racing at Naas on Monday, where they took out all the jumps, was a little bit of a farce,” Mullins told sportinglife.com, for which he is a columnist, on Friday. “Did they need to be taken out? The sun wasn’t coming out over the top of them. The issue has been causing problems too often this season.

“Jumping is what the sport is about. Jumping in sunlight is what the horses have done for hundreds of years.

“I can see why it happens at some tracks, where the sun does come over the fences or hurdles, but it definitely wasn’t the case at Naas.

“It’s a debate that should be had between trainers, jockeys, clerks of the course and the stewards. It’s a huge disadvantage for good jumpers when obstacles are taken out. It’s not ideal and we need to find a better solution.”

However, in response, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) said a safety review group, including representatives of trainers, jockeys, clerks of the course, had met on November 27th where no issue on the matter was raised.

“It is unsatisfactory for everyone. But there doesn’t seem to be a solution at the moment,” a spokesman said.

“Once riders express a concern, the clerk of the course has to consider that concern and take it on board. If they feel there’s an issue, that’s it.”

Low-lying sun is regularly a problem for jump races at this time of year when race meetings often begin before noon.

Sunday’s Thurles action, the final card before Christmas, is due to start at 12.30 and Mick Winters saddles his exciting mare Sayce in the Listed Boreen Belle Novice Hurdle.

The Co Cork trainer’s decision to drop his Grade Three-winning star back a mile for a Listed contest, where she has to give away weight, might appear unconventional.

However last weekend’s big Cheltenham win for Chatham Street Lad underlined how Winters’s judgment is rarely far off the mark.

In other news, Nicky Henderson has confirmed his star chaser Champ won’t make the trip to Leopardstown for Monday week’s Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

“He is not quite ready to run so we will have to wait a bit longer for his seasonal debut,” he said.

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