Racing: Horse sense praised by Bailey

A contented Master Oats gives B&B his approval, reports Sue Montgomery
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The Independent Online
Despite the chaos of the evacuation of Aintree, the horses involved in Saturday's events probably suffered least of those involved. Racehorses, especially seasoned steeplechasers, are accustomed to the bustle, noise and crowds of the track. Without a human's knowledge of the reasons behind the extra hubbub, they would have accepted the slight change in their routine fairly phlegmatically.

Kim Bailey, though as angry as anyone about what happened, accepted that his charges, Master Oats and Glemot, would come to little harm left in the racecourse stables. He said yesterday: "If I had thought for one moment that they were in danger I would have gone back in to get them out, and never mind what any policeman said. But equally, if the police had thought for one moment they were in danger, we would have been told to get them out, so I was fairly relaxed about leaving them."

Bailey first knew of the security alert as he was attending to the saddling of Master Oats, having already seen Glemot into the parade ring. He said: "A policeman knocked on the door of the saddling box and asked me to stop what I was doing and take the horses back to the stables. My reaction was total disbelief. I thought it was all a hoax, and that it would all be cleared up in 10 minutes."

Bailey's travelling head lad, Mark Whitehouse, untacked Master Oats and Glemot, rugged them up and settled them in their stables.

The trainer said: "Horses are left on their own for hours at a time at home, and they would not have known any different. Master Oats used to get a bit hyper, but he is pretty laid back now. All the drama happened before the jockeys were mounted and out on the course, which might have wound the horses up more. But as far as mine were concerned they just had a jolly day out at the races, without the race."

The lads were allowed back to the stables at 7.30pm. Master Oats, Glemot and the Upper Lambourn yard's 1990 winner, Mr Frisk, at Aintree for the parade of past champions, were among the group who spent the night at the Haydock racecourse stables about 14 miles from Aintree.

Bailey's wife, Tracey, said: "When we were loading up to take them away there was no panic, but a sense of urgency. All the horses, not just ours, seemed to pick up on this, and some sixth sense told them not to muck about or be silly."

Some horses find travelling stressful, and those who face a long journey back to Aintree today may be disadvantaged. Yesterday morning Master Oats and Glemot were able to have an exercise canter at Haydock with their lads, Sean Ellis and Nick Stokes. "They were perfectly relaxed," Bailey said. "The only problem might have been feed but we were able to get some of the Vixen cubes we use brought up from home by about 10.30 on Saturday evening. As far as the horses' state of fitness goes, a 48-hour postponement will not make a huge difference.

"It may have affected the humans more. The National is the one race that hypes you up more than any. I'm lucky enough to have won it, but I still get incredibly nervous."

Bailey added: "Once it became apparent that the security alert was real, I could hardly believe the IRA could do it. Horse racing in Ireland has always been one thing that seemed to cut across the sectarian divide, and all the Irish jockeys and trainers I have spoken to are angry and embarrassed, and absolutely gutted.

"What we want now is a good clean race with no injuries; something for racing to be proud of."

At around 5.10 today, it will matter less who has won or lost, than that the game was played.

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