Racing: Win by a nose leads to a fine

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Nephite took a leaf out of master finisher Robbie Fowler's book by wearing a nose-strap to score at Newcastle yesterday – only to have the device ruled illegal. The eight-year-old gelding was fitted with a "nose-flare", modelled on the accessory made famous by the prolific Leeds and England striker, in order to improve his breathing.

The strap solved the 3-1 winner's finishing problems as he put up a career-best performance to take the Chisholm Bookmakers Novices' Handicap Chase by six lengths. Sent on from halfway by his rider, Richard Guest, he never looked like stopping.

"He has got a special Robbie Fowler nose-strap on and it has revolutionised him," said Guest, who is also assistant to Nephite's owner-trainer, Norman Mason. "It is called a nose flare and it is meant to help the breathing, take pressure off the lungs and help stop bleeding. My fiance's mother Jay Murphett is marketing it and it's the first time I've used one."

But the racecourse stewards decided that the device was against the rules. Phil Tuck, the stewards' secretary, said: "Nephite was wearing a nasal dilator contrary to instruction D18 which states that it is not allowed. Mr Mason will be fined £220."

John Maxse, a Jockey Club spokesman, said: "This was discussed a couple of years ago by all the major European nations and they were unanimous in their decision not to permit the use of nasal strips or nasal dilators." He added that such a breach of the rules did not involve automatic disqualification of the horse.

* Towcester officials were last night hoping that no more rain would fall on the track, which is already heavy, before today's meeting. An inspection is planned for 3pm today at Kelso where racing is scheduled for tomorrow.