Racing: Valentino loses conquest

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TEMPERS ran high at Wolverhampton yesterday after a novice chase was declared void. During the race the field missed out a dolled-off fence but then turned back and jumped it.

The riders were initially signalled to miss out the ninth fence after two horses fell there on the first circuit. A groundsman waving a chequered flag stood in front of the obstacle - across which stood traffic cones - but on passing it, the jockeys saw there was no obstruction.

While the runners in the 3.50pm race pulled up and turned back, the fence was hastily cleared and the race resumed. But it was declared void almost three-quarters of an hour later, at 4.46.

'I have been very close to packing it in, and I think this will just about do it,' said David Jones, owner of Ru Valentino, the 5-2 favourite who 'won' the race with Norman Williamson riding. Thamesdown Tootsie finished second ahead of Ard T'Match. Professional punter Simon 'Dodger' McCartney said angrily: 'It's a disgrace, the winner has jumped all the fences.'

The stewards took their decision following telephone consultation with Jockey Club headquarters in London. Gary Lyons, who rode Ard T'Match, said: 'Peter Scudamore shouted to pull up after we went by the ninth, and we started the race again when it was cleared. It was a bit of a fiasco, but the best horse won.'