Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

O’Brien in the dock

At the time, it must have seemed the most satisfying of races, but Aidan O'Brien must be looking back with increasing exasperation on the success of Cape Blanco in the Dante Stakes at York last month.

Never mind that his colt lost his unbeaten record on Sunday, with a lifeless exhibition in the French Derby at Chantilly; or that the York runner-up, Workforce, had in the meantime smashed the track record in the Epsom Derby.

Yesterday, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed that O'Brien would have to answer charges over a controversy at the York racecourse stables later that afternoon — and one of those is, in effect, that he had brought the sport in Britain into disrepute. In view of their history together, this would seem a fairly inflammatory flourish of the BHA cutlass.

O'Brien and one of his senior employees, Pat Keating, will be summoned to a hearing in London after refusing to have Cape Blanco trotted up before the BHA veterinary officer and the racecourse veterinary surgeon back at the stables.

The colt had exacerbated a heel bruise during the race, and television cameras had already shown him being trotted up immediately afterwards. Keating, as O'Brien's representative on the track, was then ordered to attend a stewards' inquiry, but declined to do so.

One of the BHA's rules requires licensed individuals to “comply with any instructions given by the stewards of a meeting”.

O'Brien will be further charged, not only with “encouraging or causing” Keating to breach that rule, but also with acting in a manner “prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing in Britain”.

O'Brien knew that charges were in the offing, but it seems safe to say that he will be speechless over this one.

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Plans are afoot to move Irish jockey Francis Lawlor to a hospital nearer his family as he continues to make slow progress following the injuries he sustained in a fall at Down Royal on May 28.

Dr Adrian McGoldrick, the Irish Turf Club's chief medical officer, is happy with Lawlor's recuperation to date but has warned there is still a long way to go. “I've just been to see him and he's coming on well. I'm very happy with him but he still has a long way to go from a rehabilitation point of view,” he said.

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