Wolverhampton racecourse got into the swing of Comic Relief on Friday, but there were red faces rather than red noses after a horse of Alan Bailey’s was withdrawn from its race after an incident at the stalls.
The course had joined forces with Great British Racing, the revamped Racing For change, with owners Arena Racing Company putting in £250 for each runner at Lingfield and Wolverhampton to run in a red noseband. Alan Bailey’s Sixties Queen duly made her way to the 7f start for the maiden race.
The filly was withdrawn after discussions between the vets, starter and jockey after the horse banged her head as she went into the stalls and between them decided she was bleeding. Clerk of the course Fergus Cameron explained, “The vets were called to look at the horse because they thought it may have cut itself, but they believed what they found was dye, not blood, and that the horse was fit to race. However, they were called back a second time after the starter and jockey expressed further concern and at the end of the day if you allow a horse to run when other people are saying there’s a problem you are obviously caught between a rock and a hard place.”
Quite what apprentice jockey Robert Tart had to say about it isn’t clear, but trainer Alan Bailey was fuming, though more on account of the owners who ended up out of pocket by about £600. He said, “It was absolutely ridiculous. When the filly came back I put a handkerchief up her nostrils and the red mark was clearly dye, not blood. I didn’t mind her wearing the red noseband because it was for a good cause, but for her to be withdrawn like that and cost the owners money just isn’t right.”
Whilst Bailey said he didn’t expect to get any money back, GBR director of PR Nick Attenborough didn’t dismiss that out of hand, and said he would talk to the trainer to understand his point of view.
Whilst it’s right that if there’s any doubt as to whether a horse is fit to race, then it shouldn’t do so, these were clearly exceptional circumstances. Perhaps the best outcome would be for the owners’ costs to be refunded and for them to add a part of them to the £10,500 the day’s activities raised for Comic Relief.