The change of jockey is straightforward. Mattie Batchelor was down to ride Planetoid in the 2m 1f handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot on Wednesday, but a puncture on the way to Devon meant he was unable to get there. Call for a jockey to take a spare ride. Best explained, “Mattie had car trouble as far as I know and could not get to the course, so AP (McCoy) was available, and who better to ride the horse?”
By the time McCoy was booked, the morning offer of 7/2 on Planetoid had contracted to 5/4. Further support took him in to an off price of 5/6. Yet Best’s horse had run in six novice hurdles with a best placing of 7th from 14 runners. The trainer was at a loss to explain why the horse proved so popular, saying, “My brother and I aren’t gamblers. I don’t know where all that money came from, but we felt Planetoid had a decent chance. He had been working well with Lyssio, who won at Fakenham on Sunday, and we were just disappointed Mattie wasn’t able to ride.”
The local stewards asked for an explanation of the improvement in a horse that was beaten by more than 180 lengths in its previous two runs. Best told them that he and Batchelor had put a lot of time into schooling the horse after a nasty fall at Plumpton last November. Although he then had another couple of runs at the end of 2012, he had been given six months off to improve his jumping and that better ground had proved beneficial.
He added that to that yesterday, saying, “After the race Tony McCoy told me he could see why the horse had improved because he really enjoyed the firm going and we hadn’t had that before. We are just delighted to have a horse we may be able to enter in better races, and he may now finally show the potential we thought he had when we bought him.”
As for the referral to the BHA, Best didn’t appear unduly concerned, saying that he understood that routinely happened when a horse won its first run in a handicap. For the BHA, Robin Mounsey left the areas for consideration wide open. He said, “The stewards have held an enquiry into the apparent improvement in form of Planetoid. They interviewed the trainer and, having heard his evidence, they forwarded his explanation to the BHA so that the horse’s previous performance can be reviewed, alongside and other circumstances surrounding the race.”