Racing: Carson unabashed as Bashayer fails: A stiff fine plus punters' wrath for a senior jockey after a top filly is foiled in the final strides

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The Independent Online
IN THE fluctuating business of race-riding jockeys are used to days when they fall out of bed on the wrong side. Willie Carson had such an afternoon at the Roodeye yesterday, and he must have rolled off the top bunk in the morning.

The five-times champion jockey was fined pounds 1,200 for his ride on Bashayer in the Cheshire Oaks, in which he was caught on the line, and was then among the beaten jockeys as Rodeo Star, the horse he should have ridden, won the Chester Cup.

Carson was the original choice for Rodeo Star, but the horse's trainer, Nigel Tinkler, made the alternative booking of Nick Carlisle, a lighter jockey, in case the weights did not go up. As it was, Rodeo Star's final burden rose to within Carson's compass, but the Scotsman was on the fourth-placed Balasani as Carlisle enjoyed an unusually smooth passage through the chicanes of the Cup.

The seven-year-old had been decamped from Malton on Sunday night in preparation for this venture. 'Pat Rohan always used to bring them two days beforehand and he had a lot of winners here,' Tinkler said.

A reconnaissance mission on Monday morning (when Carlisle presumably got out of the right side) filled connections with confidence. 'I just liked the horse's attitude,' the jockey said. 'I said that provided we don't get wiped out, which can happen in this race, I thought we had a good chance.'

The run of the race is paramount in the Chester Cup, a handicap which sees large fields of horses twisting like dogs after their tails as they pass the winning post three times. This is the ultimate in equine roulette: round and round they go, where they stop nobody knows.

Carlisle, though, was always on a smooth and unhindered passage. 'I was almost running away on the way round, it was a great feeling,' he said.

Emotion was also available in the commentary box, where one observer linked this race to Saturday's Kentucky Derby, which offers a garland token that stamps the event as the 'Run For The Roses'. Chester's equivalent is to give out dairy produce to the winners, which led the man at the microphone to give the Cup the more prosaic title of the 'Run For The Cheeses'.

The irony of the marathon was that Rodeo Star, a jewel among dual-purpose horses, would never have been a runner had he been diverted from hurdling over the winter. 'He would have gone chasing this season but the novice chasers looked extra special,' Tinkler reported. 'This is all a bonus because he is definitely going over fences next year.'

Carson missed out on his pounds 3,500 cut here, 30 minutes after losing pounds 1,200 from his account on Bashayer. Dick Hern's filly looked a winner until the dying stages of the Cheshire Oaks, when John Reid on Abury pounced to overtake. Carson's ride may have been puzzling, but did not measure with the man from Coral, who thought Bashayer's effort worthy of a reduction in the Oaks ante-post market to 8-1 (from 16-1).

The stewards adjudicated that Carson's movements in the closing moments could have been more purposeful, and fined him close to the maximum of pounds 1,300 in view of his seniority, the importance of the race and the fact that Bashayer was a well-backed favourite. The three punters who each placed pounds 2,000 to win pounds 4,500 are likely to have agreed with this assessment.

'You have got to be seen to be riding out, and in the view of the stewards he (Carson) stopped riding for about four strides,' Patrick Hibbert-Foy, one of the stewards' secretaries, said. 'He has been caught out, caught napping.'

Carson himself said that Bashayer had been a fading associate in the straight, and he believed her best distance was over the shorter journey of 10 furlongs. 'She was stopping,' he said. 'I tried to hold her together but she was stopping.'

If Carson was looking for solace he could have considered the title of an earlier race, the Cheshire Regiment Handicap, a race sponsored by the band of men currently on a tour of duty with the United Nations force in what was Yugoslavia. As he dodged backers' criticism, he could have been comforted by the thought that others elsewhere were avoiding more lethal missiles.

THE OAKS (Epsom, 5 June): Coral: 5-1 Sueboog, 8-1 Bashayer, Criquette & Yawl, 10-1 Intrepidity & Wemyss Bight; Ladbrokes: 5-1 Sueboog, 8-1 Wemyss Bight & Yawl, 12-1 Intrepidity, 14-1 Criquette, 20-1 Bashayer; William Hill: 6-1 Sueboog & Yawl, 10-1 Criquette & Wemyss Bight, 12-1 Bashayer, 14-1 Intrepidity & Lead Note.