De Bromhead bemoans luck
Henry de Bromhead believes the dolling off of the final fence in the Queen Mother Champion Chase could have made all the difference as Sizing Europe lost his crown to Finian's Rainbow at the Cheltenham Festival.
The horses had to switch right as they headed for the fence as medics were treating Richard Johnson on the other side after a fall on the first circuit, and Andrew Lynch struggled to get Sizing Europe past the obstacle, losing momentum in the process.
"Andrew tried to hug the rails all the way, just like last year, and he didn't know he was going to have to miss the last. He just said 'the last cost me the race'," reported De Bromhead.
"We could have done with jumping another fence as he always likes something to aim at. These things happen and I wouldn't like to say much more. It was an incident-packed race. We lost Wishfull Thinking at the second and we could have done with a lead for longer.
"We were eventually beaten fair and square, but things didn't fall as you would like them through the race. I'm disappointed not to win, but it didn't happen today and he ran a blinder, he always does."
To add insult to injury for Lynch, he was also penalised by the stewards for his use of the whip on Sizing Europe. He was banned for six days (March 28-31 and April 1-2) for using it in an incorrect place.
Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the BHA, said in a statement: "The correct procedures in the bypassing of the fence were adopted. The fence was directed to be bypassed by Simon Claisse, the clerk of the course, and once this direction was given the direction markers were placed on the fence.
"Initially the direction markers were positioned across the fence but due to the casualties on the landing side Richard Linley, senior inspector of courses, decided that the markers be repositioned collectively on the inside of the fence for added protection of the injured persons.
"It should also be noted the hazard warning flag was deployed correctly and approximately two metres from the running rail. Additionally the person waving the flag was blowing a whistle alerting jockeys to bypass.
"The priority in any bypassing situation is the safety and welfare of the injured parties and those administering the treatment. In this case, there was a rider with a suspected broken leg. The direction markers were grouped together to give Richard Johnson and the medical team optimum protection at that time."