Racing: Pipe stunned by £3,000 fine for 'non-trier'

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The Independent Online

Martin Pipe, the 14-times champion trainer, and Jamie Moore, the leading conditional jockey, were yesterday found guilty under the so-called "non-triers" rules by the Jockey Club over the running and riding of the gelding Celtic Son in a hurdle race at Exeter last October.

Martin Pipe, the 14-times champion trainer, and Jamie Moore, the leading conditional jockey, were yesterday found guilty under the so-called "non-triers" rules by the Jockey Club over the running and riding of the gelding Celtic Son in a hurdle race at Exeter last October. Pipe was fined £3,000, Moore banned for 21 days and Celtic Son barred from running for 40 days, a period which includes the Cheltenham Festival.

Pipe and Moore emerged shell shocked from the inquiry, heard by the disciplinary panel at the Jockey Club's London headquarters in Shaftesbury Avenue. The hearing lasted some three hours; it took fewer than 10 minutes for those sitting in judgement to reach a verdict and Pipe had strong words afterwards. "I think they had made their minds up before we even went in," he said. "It's ridiculous. They've got it totally wrong. I am very disappointed."

The pair had been summoned to answer charges - the trainer's relating to instructions given before the race, the jockey's to whether or not he ensured the horse ran on its merits - three months after the Exeter event. The officials on the day had seen nothing to warrant an investigation in Celtic Son's close, staying-on fifth place, but yesterday's inquiry was triggered by the horse's subsequent massive improvement in form.

Since the race under question - only his second over hurdles - Celtic Son has won five from seven and his rating has advanced 37lb. His victories - all over a longer trip than at Exeter, on softer ground and equipped with a tongue-tie - included a quick-fire hat-trick over six days in January and a stylish success at Kempton a week ago. The six-year-old, who runs in David Johnson's colours, was one of the market leaders for a valuable Grade 2 three-mile novices' contest at the Festival.

The Jockey Club's case was presented by Lyn Williams, of its disciplinary department; Pipe and Moore's was put by amateur rider-turned-solicitor Rory Mac Neice. The three-man panel was chaired by Guy Roxburghe, best-known these days as Attraction's owner-breeder.

The thrusts of the accusation against Moore was that instead of hitting Celtic Son in the finishing straight, the jockey was actually delivering "air shots" with his whip, and that instead of riding the horse out fully, he was actually restraining him. Recordings of the race were shown, and re-shown, from six different camera angles.

The films showed that Moore started to make progress on Celtic Son down the back straight, gave the horse four smacks, in bursts of two, as the pace in front quickened, and then six more smacks, again in pairs, after each of the three hurdles in the straight. In particular, the back view of the field progressing towards the finish appeared to more than confirm the jockey's insistence that he made contact with his mount, and that his backside was down in the drive position all the way, and that he was having to cope with holding together and in balance a big, green boat of a horse.

The frustration of Pipe and Moore, both horsemen, was apparent as Williams, who is not, appeared to continually misinterpret the jockey's actions and show a limited knowledge of the craft of race-riding. The experience of Peter Scudamore, who was there as a defence witness, was not called upon by the panel.

Moore was found guilty of failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures to gain the best possible placing with intent to deliberately conceal the horse's ability. The panel decided that he intentionally restrained the gelding after the third-last until the winning post, and that any contact with his whip had been minimal. His suspension runs from next Tuesday to 14 March, the day before the Festival begins. "It's an absolute joke," he said. "I have done my very best on the horse. I have driven him for a mile and hit him 10 times. I couldn't do much more within the rules; I've been suspended in the past for hitting a horse 12 times."

Pipe's instructions to his jockey were succinct: hold the horse up, take up the running approaching the last, go on and win. "He didn't follow instructions in that he didn't take it up at the last and he didn't win," said the trainer, "but he tried his best. He has definitely hit the horse, and I believe him."

Because Pipe stuck by Moore, he, too, was found in breach of the non-trier rule, for the first time in his 28-year career. The two men have until Monday to lodge an appeal.

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