Stewards hit new target in Tiger Shoot

RACING : After the turmoil over Top Cees, stricter enforcement of rules against non-triers leads to the first ban imposed on a horse
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Trainers tempted to give their horse an ''easy'' in the near future will have to be careful. In the steamy climate created by Top Cees' victory in Wednesday's Chester Cup and last night's focus on non-triers in Channel 4's "A Good Bet", racing's officials are waiting twitchily to react.

David Thom, the Newmarket trainer, was the first man to fall foul of the increased scrutiny yesterday when he was fined £1,000 for the running of his Tiger Shoot at Southwell. His jockey, Lee Newton, was suspended for seven days. Tiger Shoot, who ran on well in the closing stages to finish sixth, beaten five lengths, became the first horse under the non- triers' rules to be banned from racing - in this case for 30 days. The winner of the race, by neat irony, was called Nothing Doing.

Thom was rather shocked by the penalty. "It's the first time in 35 years it's been suggested one of my horses has not been running on its merits," he said.

At Chester, the Jockey Club explained the thought processes that had gone into the treatment of Top Cees, a tenderly guided favourite at Newmarket last month before his hard-ridden success at the Roodeye.

Jeremy Ker, stewards' secretary on the day at Headquarters, said the panel's initial scepticism about the race was doused when Kieran Fallon, Top Cees' rider, told them he had not ridden a bad race. (It may be a good job he didn't tell them to pull their trousers down).

The stewards' immediate acquiescence looked all the stranger the following day when Fallon went on television full of remorse and apologies for his gross misjudgement.

David Pipe, the Jockey Club's press officer, added that the case would not be reopened as it had already been investigated twice. "It wasn't just a glance at it," he said. "All Top Cees' previous runs were examined closely. We had the transcipt of the original inquiry, and the film of the race was looked at minutely from all different angles, but there was not sufficient evidence to refute the claim that even if the jockey had ridden more vigorously he would still have met the same difficulties in running and not won. It is totally wrong to convict on gut feelings.''

The frequently voiced contention that stewards should be professionals drawn from the competitive ranks of the sport was again dismissed. "We already have two ex-jockeys and two former trainers among the stewards secretaries," Pipe said.

Anthony Mildmay-White, the chairman of the Jockey Club's Disciplinary Committee, made a pre-emptive strike against Channel 4's programme which was screened last night and included the damning thoughts of an unidentified jockey. "The small part of the programme which looks superficially at non-triers heavily exaggerates the problem," Mildmay-White said. "We consider that stopping a horse from winning is a very serious breach of the rules and the Jockey Club has recently taken several steps to improve further its operation in this area.

"It is fundamental to natural justice that no one should be found in breach of the rules unless there is clear evidence to support that verdict. Unfortunately in the case of non-triers it is easier to suspect malpractice than to prove it.''

The surreal flavour to racing at Chester, where events off- course swamped the on-track action, was emphasised by two characters in the winners' enclosure. A member of the pop group Take That appeared with an extravagant suit and jumper, but had forgotten his shirt in the dressing process. His presence had young girls sprinting across the sacred lawn in search of autographs.

By the singer's side was the substantial shape of the Liverpool goalkeeper, David James, who was so upset by his side's 3-0 defeat at West Ham the previous night that he had shaved off his yellow car-sponge of a haircut.

Lynda Ramsden, Top Cees' trainer, was also quite miffed following the "hurtful" media coverage of her horse. She thought the Fourth Estate's words had made the Jockey Club look like "wallies", but this has been an area where the men from Portman Square have needed little assistance.

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