Nightmare trip for Norville

David Evans, trainer of luckless Norville

David Evans might be regretting his decision to run Norville in the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes at The Curragh on Sunday following a catalogue of mishaps which befell the trip to Ireland.

First, there was a question of blinkers. Norville regularly wears them, and Evans was 99% sure that when he made the declaration last Friday morning he had stated that the horse would wear them again. But come Sunday the was no mention of blinkers on the race card and as the offices of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) were closed there was no opportunity to correct this and the horse had to run without them. In the event, Evans's four-year-old colt put in a creditable performance to finish in fourth place in the race, which was won by 4/11 on favourite Deacon Blue.

HRI director of racing Jason Morris said, "It was an administrative error on our part. All we can do is apologise. We have a phone recording system, but unfortunately the issue came to light quite late and we didn't manage to access it in time."

The second piece of misfortune struck stable groom Mark Doyle, who was involved in a collision with the Mick Channon trained Winker Watson. Evans explained, "He (Winker Watson) took off the wrong way to the start and bolted into him (Doyle). He smashed a shoulder in three places and fractured his sternum." Turf Club chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick said of Doyle's injuries, "Naas hospital wanted to keep him in to have a brain scan, but he was keen to get back to the UK, so they discharged him with letters to take to his doctor when he gets home." Doyle slept in the horse box on Sunday night and was driven back on the ferry yesterday by Lord Huntingdon.

They might well have come back in the horse box, but for a third stroke of bad luck, as the box broke down on the way to the ferry. Mick Channon stopped to help out and brought Norville home, perhaps feeling a little guilty about his horse’s involvement in Doyle's accident.

There was though, the proverbial silver lining to these clouds, as Evans yesterday had Norville's entry fee for the Phoenix Sprint stakes reimbursed after the confusion about whether or not blinkers had been declared.

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