Racing: Scrutineer fails Quest's close examination

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The Independent Online
A STRAIT-JACKET is de rigueur when putting a long-range bet on the Triumph Hurdle, as Scrutineer's defeat at Kempton yesterday showed, writes Paul Hayward.

Scrutineer was 12-1 favourite for the Cheltenham Festival's wackiest race before yesterday, but after pulling too hard and jumping on - rather than over - the last two flights of hurdles he weakened quickly to finish fourth behind Indian Quest, Night Clubbing and the promising Home Counties.

Those who yearn for the return of Flat racing could have done worse than dose themselves up on this event. Among the 11 contestants were horses by those illustrious Flat stallions, Rainbow Quest (Indian Quest's sire), The Minstrel, Ela Mana Mou and Teenoso.

The Triumph Hurdle betting is the stuff of madness. While Scrutineer was bombing out of the picture, a horse called Autumn Gorse was conjured up to take his place, a bit like Monty's double. Autumn what? Apparently the latest shop dummy won a race at Leopardstown on his only start over hurdles.

To provide some perspective, it is worth recalling that the last four winners of the Triumph Hurdle have gone off at 33-1, 14-1, 25-1 and 66-1. Trainers say they dislike the race because it can ruin a callow horse, and because it is such a stampede, yet every year there are 26 to 30 runners taking their chance.

Still, ours is not to judge. Only sympathy can be extended to the punter who had pounds 16,000 to win on Scrutineer at 2-1 yesterday, thinking that he was going to pick up an easy pounds 32,000.

Adrian Maguire will not ride at Kempton today following a bad fall from Regent Lad at Catterick yesterday afternoon. Maguire, who was kicked in the ribs after his mount fell at the fourth, was transferred to the Duchess of Kent Military Hospital at Catterick.