Kirby denounces 'slur' after ban for controversial ride


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The Independent Online

It may yet prove that Walter Swinburn's finest achievement, as a trainer, was to recognise and hone the talent of Adam Kirby. Nowadays associated with the up-and-coming stables of Marco Botti and Clive Cox, Kirby is running away with the all-weather riders' championship and, still only 24, looks ideally placed for a breakthrough 2013. All in all, then, he is entitled to treat the seven-day suspension he received today from the British Horseracing Authority as only a temporary reverse.

Nonetheless, he pronounced himself vexed by a "slur" on his character after being found to have shown inadequate vigour on Pipers Piping when 10th of 13 in a Kempton handicap last month. It was an unusual case. The raceday stewards found no fault in Kirby's performance, but he was summoned before the disciplinary panel today after a review at BHA headquarters. Timeform, for its part, reported Pipers Piping as "very much catching the eye" after travelling strongly in the rear, "considerately handled" when meeting traffic and "finishing with running left".

The ban starts next Friday but Kirby has already paid a penalty. After his hearing Kirby jumped on a train to Lingfield but arrived too late for his first mount, which duly won. He told At The Races that Pipers Piping would not respond to different tactics. "As soon as you get vigorous with him, he stops," he said. "It's a slur on my character. I rode him the way I did to get him to run well."

Kirby later teamed up with Botti for his 49th winner of the winter campaign, 22 ahead of Jim Crowley. Botti was, meanwhile, represented in the first big race of the Dubai International Carnival, but Fanunalter never landed a blow in Round One of the Maktoum Challenge behind Barbecue Eddie, a veteran who seems to have been transformed in Dubai.

Godolphin made their customary flying start to the Carnival, with a 1-2-3 in one of the handicaps and Sharestan, previously a Listed winner for the Aga Khan when trained by John Oxx, looking an exciting recruit for Saeed Bin Suroor. But first blood had gone to the Irish, Lily's Angel reaching a new peak in her improvement for Ger Lyons.

At the other end of the Turf spectrum, Catterick welcomed back one or two from its coldest margins. Ian Popham won the bumper on only his second ride after breaking his pelvis – for the second time in 13 months – in October, while the success of Chac Du Cadran in the North Yorkshire National, on only his fifth start over fences, had Chris Bealby dreaming of some day going for the Aintree original. The Lincolnshire trainer revealed afterwards that he had not dared to buy a horse for 18 months, such has been the impact of the recession on his stable.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Midnight Sequel (7.30 Wolverhampton) Entitled to need the run last time, following a six-month absence, and remains unexposed for a stable in top form this winter.

Next best

Day Of Destiny (5.30 Wolverhampton) Lightly raced on the Flat and did well to hang in there for a close third after racing too freely in his first handicap round here.

One to watch

Flavius Victor (Patrick Chamings) Has done well for his new stable and looked feasibly treated when caught in traffic at Lingfield last week.