Racing: Stoute's 'non-trier' fine increased as protest backfires

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The Independent Online

For a natural-born winner such an indignation turned to humiliation for Sir Michael Stoute yesterday when his protest against a heavy fine under the "non-triers" rule backfired in spectacular fashion. The champion trainer appealed to the Horseracing Regulatory Authority against the £6,500 penalty imposed by the Windsor stewards over the running of Florimund in a maiden on 24 July. The HRA was so unimpressed with his case, however, that it promptly increased the fine to £8,500.

Emerging from the hearing, Stoute was too staggered to comment. But the HRA could scarcely be more eloquent in its intentions than in its treatment of a man halfway towards his ninth trainers' title. In financial terms, this is an unprecedented penalty, and the sport's new disciplinary body is clearly determined to prove itself indifferent to reputations.

Florimund was making his third start at Windsor, where the stewards also banned Stephen Davies, his jockey, for 32 days and the colt himself for 40. Davies appeared to make only a perfunctory effort to improve his position after being very slowly away, finishing 11th, beaten around eight lengths. The HRA panel issued a statement, explaining its judgement, and did not mix its words.

"In summary, the ride given by Mr Davies was a disgrace," it said. The jockey's suggestion that he was "tired" it dismissed as "ludicrous". The videos showed that Florimund was "ridden in a manner that appeared designed to achieve a highly advantageous handicap mark". It concluded that this "was a particularly poor case of a non-trier".

Not that it always pays to break too well, though few at Goodwood yesterday seemed prepared to recognise as much. Indeed, William Hill eased Hamoody out to 33-1 from 25-1 for the Stan James 2,000 Guineas - even though he won the Sterling Insurance Richmond Stakes. As it happens, there are grounds for concern about the Johannesburg colt's ability to stay a mile. But nobody should be deceived that he lacks quality, simply because Bodes Galaxy made him work so hard to land short odds here.

Hamoody was the least experienced colt in the field, having won his only start at Newmarket last month, and his speed from the gate left him marooned on the outside. With no cover, he pulled fiercely throughout and it was remarkable that he retained enough energy to get past the frontrunning Bodes Galaxy. But he showed a spirited attitude to get up by a head from a thriving, professional rival, making his fifth start.

In other words, this gorgeous specimen has substance as well as style. If Alan Munro had managed to settle him in the rear, he would almost certainly have won with the flamboyance demanded by those who refuse to acknowledge what it takes for a colt to win a Group Two prize just three weeks after his debut.

Peter Chapple-Hyam certainly took that view. "We were going to drop him in but he broke too well," the trainer said. "He will relax with cover and is much better when he switches off. He's much better than he looked. He'll keep improving - he's still a baby. All he needs to do is grow up mentally. We'll probably wait for the Dewhurst Stakes."

Sir Mark Prescott produced Spectait in the form of his life to win the valuable Totesport Handicap in course record time. This was a typically deft piece of training, though for the future note should be made of a remarkable effort from Sir Gerard, who was soon adrift from the worst of the draw but managed to weave his way into fourth.

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