Five-timer for McCoy at Newton Abbot

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The Independent Online
Tony McCoy took Newton Abbot by storm yesterday afternoon when booting home a second career five-timer at odds of 120-1.

The reigning champion jockey was successful aboard the Martin Pipe-trained quartet Commanche Creek, Couchant, Totally Yours and Pond House. His other success was on Nashaat, saddled by Karl Burke in the opening race.

Jack Berry yesterday warned against cutting the number of fixtures with the "too much racing" debate once again on the agenda.

John Gosden has spearheaded renewed calls for a reduction in the number of fixtures since the 1998 Fixture List was published last month with an increase of 14 meetings.

But Cockerham trainer Berry, who regularly has runners at all levels of Flat racing, said: "You have to be very careful about calling for less fixtures - it keeps jockeys, trainers and stablelads in a job and most of them love it.

"We're in work which is something to be grateful for and I don't know if you can change things now. If people don't want to go to the meetings, they don't have to. Don't forget, too, that the locals love it."

John O'Shea, who has enjoyed success during the summer jumping programme, said: "I think there is an important market place out there for trainers who haven't got 100 horses. It's easy to say there's too much racing when you can go out and spend pounds 70,000 on a horse but the race planners have got to cater for everybody.

Gosden criticised the fixture list for "perpetuating bad horses" but O'Shea said: "Certainly in the summer jumping campaign I can't recall any bad or easy races - it's been very successful with substantial fields for competitive races. You have to consider the opposite end of the scale from the big trainers. We have our owners to cater for and they want to run their horses."

Roy Bowring, who trains near Southwell's all-weather track, said: "For me, racing at Southwell is fantastic - it provides opportunities for the lower grade horses, especially when the ground is frozen."

But he also called for a "rest day", particularly when racing takes place on a Sunday. "I think it is absolutely ridiculous that stable staff are having to work seven days a week and it does seem to me that Monday should be a blank day when there has been racing on a Sunday," he said.

But Berry disagreed. "At the moment, lads get alternative weekends off," he said. "It'd be absolutely pointless them being at home on a Monday when their families were out at work."