Racing: Cheltenham's clerk to face Club inquiry

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The Independent Online
Cheltenham's controversially late abandonment earlier this month is to be investigated by the Jockey Club's disciplinary committee. An inquiry will determine whether the acting clerk of the course, Edward Gillespie, complied with the rules of racing when the meeting was called off at the track on 9 December, Tripleprint Gold Cup day.

Despite freezing conditions overnight, officials gave no warning that the fixture was in jeopardy. Some 8,000 racegoers had been admitted to the course when the abandonment was announced at 12.55pm - 35 minutes after the scheduled off-time for the delayed first race.

A Jockey Club spokesman, John Maxse, explained: "It has yet to be clarified which rules are in question, just that there is a case to answer. There are a number of instructions issued to clerks which they are asked to follow and a clerk should at all times act in a professional manner.

"The most obviously similar case was at Newcastle two years ago on Fighting Fifth Hurdle day when racing was abandoned and the clerk of the course, David Parmley, was subsequently fined pounds 600."

The inquiry comes at a time when Gillespie is also under pressure in his other role with Epsom. A campaign, led by the BBC's racing commentator Peter O'Sullevan, is being mounted to try to persuade the track to switch the Derby back to its traditional Wednesday slot after being staged on a Saturday this year.