Racing: Right look stuns Williamson

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The stewards have stepped up their campaign against jockeys who look as if they are not trying hard enough, or in the case of Norman Williamson, looking the wrong way. Richard Edmondson reports.

When you talk glasses and stewards, the immediate clinking image is of ice floes bobbing around in crystal-contained oceans of fine brandy. The noble men in tweeds may have to be reassessed mentally, however, following the recent vigorous employment of the alternative glassware of binoculars from their eyries.

On Sunday at Ayr, the jockey Brian Storey was punished for non-trying, at a time when he could have expected his adjudicators to be squabbling over the slabs on the cheese board. And yesterday there were admonishments, too, for feather-duster efforts at Plumpton and Leicester.

Gardie Grissell and Barry Fenton were the naughty boys in Sussex, the trainer and jockey team being fined and banned respectively following Buckland Lad's second placing in the handicap chase.

Gardie, it must be said, hardly held his hands up. "This is outrageous," he said. "In 20 years of training I have never sent out a non-trier and never back any of my own horses. My jockey rode a great race as the others went off too fast in this heavy ground. This is a slur upon my character and I shall appeal."

Even if you had been slurring with an empty decanter by your side at Leicester, it would have been demanding to ignore the howler committed by Norman Williamson. The jockey was comfortably clear on the run-in of the novices' chase on Herbert Lodge and, just to make sure, he peeped over his right shoulder to check for dangers. If he'd looked over his left, he would have noticed Kapco steaming up for an improbable success as he struck a statuesque pose.

This is not good form at the best of times, and it is especially not good when you are riding a 4-11 shot. Herbert Lodge transported pounds 7,000 in recorded bets alone and some of the contributors gathered to have a word with Normie on his return. They came close to forming a lynch mob. "Go back to Ireland", "go to Blackpool" and "you should be banned for six months" were the views available to a family newspaper.

One punter tried to penetrate the unsaddling enclosure to make his point and Williamson walked out to his next ride amid a cocoon of fellow jockeys. "I am very, very sorry," he said. "I made a mistake. It's been done before and it will be done again. I made a mistake and that's it - sorry to the public." Williamson's official chastening was a 14-day suspension which removes him from consideration for the Hennessy Gold Cup.

There are plenty of cups to be won before Newbury, though, notably the hardware for the First National Bank Gold Cup at Ascot on Saturday. On a point of handicapping, the winner has already been established as Simply Dashing, whose victim at Wetherby this month, Senor El Betrutti, secured Saturday's Murphy's Gold Cup.

The bunting has yet to be dragged down from the loft at the gelding's Yorkshire yard, however. "The horse is all right and Richard Dunwoody has been booked to ride," Peter Easterby, father of trainer Tim, said. "The Wetherby race may have been false, the grey [Senor El Betrutti] may have needed it."

Simply Dashing shares top weight with Or Royal, Martin Pipe's winner of last season's Arkle Trophy at the Festival. Another consideration is Josh Gifford's Redeemyourself. "As long as the ground is good, and we are promised some rain, then Redeemyourself will run," the trainer said. And he, like all the others, had better run wholeheartedly as the boys with the glasses will be watching.


NAP: Deano's Beeno

(Newton Abbot 3.30)

NB: Nant Y Gamer

(Lingfield 3.20)