Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

O’Brien in Cape storm

Aidan O'Brien was referred to the British Horseracing Authority after reportedly refusing to allow raceday officials to examine Cape Blanco following his win in yesterday’s totesport Dante Stakes at York.

The Ballydoyle trainer watched from Co Tipperary as Cape Blanco galloped to 7-2 second-favouritism for the Investec Derby, after which rumours circulated about his well-being.

Television pictures appeared to show the colt being lame and stiff, but representatives from Ballydoyle and Coolmore insisted the horse was fine.

In an attempt to settle the matter, stipendiary steward Robert Earnshaw and BHA vet Lynn Hillyer spoke to O'Brien by phone but he was said to have refused for the winner to be examined and declined an invitation for his travelling head lad, Pat Keating, to meet with the stewards.

Earnshaw said: “Our vet is down at the stables but Mr O'Brien has refused to have the horses trotted up in front of the vet. The lad has loaded the horse up and is heading for the airport.

“Mr O'Brien also refused a request for the stable lad to be interviewed by the stewards so the matter has been referred to the British Horseracing Authority under Rule B 83, which states that persons must comply with any instruction given by stewards at a race meeting.”

Meanwhile Johnny Murtagh declared “the crisis over” after Cape Blanco’s victory.

Ballydoyle have replied to critics, who argued they may be lacking in the Classic department this year, having won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial with Midas Touch, and now the Dante with the unbeaten Cape Blanco.

Stable jockey Murtagh said: “This horse would be up to all the challenges of Epsom.”

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