Racing: Fallon furious after 'lame' runner is allowed to start

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The Independent Online

Mr Ed, despite his name, was not able to speak before the Travelsphere Holiday Stakes at Goodwood yesterday. If he had been able to communicate, the five-year-old may have have uttered one significant word: "ouch".

Kieren Fallon, Mr Ed's jockey, was convinced his mount was lame before the start, but was persuaded by the vet at the stalls that he should participate. Peter Bowen's horse, who won the corresponding race 12 months ago, certainly suggested that Fallon had dispensed the correct diagnosis. He was never travelling with any authority and finished a tailed off last. The jockey was not amused.

"When I got down there I told the staff that in my opinion the horse was lame and not fit to run, but the vet disagreed with me and let it take part," Fallon said. "I am wild about the fact that he would not take my word as a professional that the horse was not fit to run.

"I believe that punters were done a disservice by the fact that the horse was allowed to go. To me it felt it was lame throughout the whole race."

Ed Lyall, the racecourse vet, did not lie down. "I checked the horse at the start and in my opinion he was fine and fit to race," he said. "After the race I found that Mr Ed showed no signs of distress and he was perfectly all right, in my opinion."

It was just the beginning of conflicting reports. The Jockey Club vet at the course also examined Mr Ed after the race and found the chestnut to be slightly lame behind during routine testing.

Paul Barton, the stipendiary steward, added: "We asked for the gelding to be routine-tested after the race. During routine testing by our veterinary officer Chris Hammond, he has reported to the stewards that Mr Ed was very slightly lame behind."

Bowen was also said to have considered the gelding to be sound, and Barton added: "We have four conflicting sets of evidence from four competent professional people. As far as the stewards are concerned the gelding was sound enough and fit enough to start the race.

"Subsequent to the race, clearly there is something wrong with him. It's not entirely agreed what it is. It's just one of those very unfortunate things. Kieren Fallon did not ask for the horse to be inspected for lameness. He was concerned about the condition of the gelding in that he thought the gelding was blowing heavily. Anybody involved with horses wouldn't be terribly surprised that four people couldn't agree as to whether the horse was sound or there was something wrong.

"A copy of our report on the inquiry will go back to Portman Square. If they have any concerns over betting patterns, they will be taken up by the security department."

Salsalino, who was a strong-finishing third when favourite for the Ebor last Wednesday, will try to gain glorious compensation in the St Leger at Doncaster next month. "He's been in very good form since York, very fresh and well," Alan King, the trainer, said yesterday. "We are very happy with the way he's come out of the race.

"We might even try a visor on him in the St Leger just to try and get him to travel a bit better early on and to just give the jockey a bit of help. The long straight at Doncaster would help and I imagine it would be a lot smaller field as well. He is a horse that just takes a bit of time to find his stride."

Salsalino is around 16-1 for Town Moor, while odds of 20-1 are available about Franklin Gardens, who has not been sighted on a racecourse since finishing a well-beaten 14th behind Kris Kin in the Derby. Mark Tompkins' colt is due to bounce from one Classic to another after missing the Great Voltigeur Stakes on the Knavesmire last week. "He was entered at York but I just wasn't happy with how he did a bit of work so I just left him alone," Tompkins said yesterday. "But he's fine. He's on course for the Leger. I'm hoping we get some rain - that's what we want. It's been firm ground all the time that's why I haven't run him. He's too nice a horse to keep running on firm ground. He wants soft ground and he's never had it all year. He's won his two races on firm ground. He hates that really so I think he's a pretty good horse. So I'm not going to punish him if the ground stays firm. I'm going to be careful with him."