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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 6 July, 2020

Johnny Ward: Moore's ban the latest alarming turn in the destruction of our sport

‘There is so much wrong with this ruling it is hard to know where to start.’

Ryan Moore on board Mums Tipple at York.
Ryan Moore on board Mums Tipple at York.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THERE ARE A few stories about the wonderfully named Footstepsinthesand, a son of the legendary Giant’s Causeway who won every race he ran for Aidan O’Brien, including the 2,000 Guineas.

Despite being the purported second-string on debut, facing a stablemate called Olympic who cost $3.6m, Footstepsinthesand was hammered from huge odds into 3-1 and hacked up. Olympic ended his racing days as a maiden in the States: things in our lives do not always work out as planned.

When Kieren Fallon took over as stable jockey the following season, in 2005, he was told of this gifted upstart as hot as the earth’s core. By all accounts, or at least the one I heard, Fallon’s ability to tame the temperamental colt on the Ballydoyle gallops had his new work colleagues wallowing in awe.

Stallions implant traits in their offspring as you would expect and, as you would also expect, many of Footstepsinthesand’s offspring are more than a little tricky.

I have little or no idea what sort of temperament Mums Tipple has but I am pretty sure Ryan Moore has a better concept of same than the British Horseracing Authority stewards who were on duty Thursday at York, where the BHA’s damaging road to the destruction of our sport took its latest alarming turn.

Having his second start, Mums Tipple produced a visually extraordinary performance under Moore. Alert from the traps and exhibiting impressive early toe, he had the field beaten a long way out, much like his daddy on debut back in 2004.

Appearing to be understandably green on his second start in the final couple of furlongs, Moore kept the horse up to his work without excessive use of his stick, and the 11-length winning margin in a £300,000 sales race in which he had to give weight to his rivals suggested that it is possible that Mums Tipple could even be the best son of Footstepsinthesand to ever race all these years later.

The admirably bullshit-averse Moore was unusually impressed. “He was actually lonely in front,” he said. “He kept changing his knees and ran around but looking at the replay it was very impressive.

“The saddle was gone as well,” he went on. “I was worried about falling off him.”

Moore’s interview was with Lydia Hislop of Racing TV. Hislop acknowledged recently on Twitter having seen London buses adorned with pro-whip-ban advertisements, the catchy hook: You wouldn’t hit a dog, so why are jockeys allowed to whip racehorses?

juddmonte-international-day-2019-yorkshire-ebor-festival-york-racecourse Moore was handed a two-day whip ban. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The ad, as with pretty much everything the animal rights lobby does with regard to racing, exposed the general stupidity and ignorance of said lobby, which of course has noble intentions in the main. For a start, the whip is a misnomer.

A whip is defined as “a strip of leather or length of chord fastened to a handle, used for flogging or beating a person or for urging on an animal”. It evokes horrible imagery, slaves facing trees and all of that.

What Moore used Thursday was nothing of the sort. Jockeys have a piece of corrective equipment that would barely hurt a fly, manifestly harmless if smacked against a human hand and clearly incapable of inflicting any physical ordeal when it comes to an animal weighing in at 500kg with more than enough ability to kill a human with a split-second kick.

Everyone on social media and I presume everyone at York was full of adulation for Richard Hannon’s colt. The BHA’s reaction to the race was to ban Moore for two days because he had used his stick on a horse who was deemed to be in an unassailable lead.

This is the latest example of the BHA’s rules being more concerned about the welfare of the horse than the jockey. Brazenly dangerous riding often incurs no punishment in British racing, yet Moore was whacked with a loaded suspension for trying to keep a two-year-old in a straight line and, dare it be said, attempting to win by as far as he could on Thursday.

There is so much wrong with this ruling it is hard to know where to start. If Mums Tipple retired today, he would be a valuable stallion prospect for his owners, who would inevitably advertise the fact that he had broken the track record in their sales-pitch manifesto, were that the case.

Essentially, the BHA rule suggests you should under no circumstances pursue a track record, assuming the horse is seen to be in an unbeatable lead.

Moreover, how can it be convinced Moore knew the race was won? Could he have struggled to hear what was going on because of the roar of the crowd? Might he have been preoccupied with his own safety on a wayward horse going over 40 miles an hour?

The rights of animals is something most of us do not think nearly enough about. It is said that the Irishman’s favourite deli lunch is a chicken fillet roll, when the history of the animal from which the meat originated would often be more likely to make you regurgitate.

If any of us eat meat, we should at the very least think about where it came from. When it comes to animal welfare, thoroughbred horses have lives that many humans could only dream of.

And when it comes to the BHA’s rulings that defer to horses’ welfare, like the banning of Declan Lavery after the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in March, it would be laughable if it were not far more serious than that.

And if it is more concerned by the views of the pontificating dog-loving urbanite (who could not tell a whip from a whipped cream) than the likes of Ryan Moore, we are on the road to the death of the sport.

Get yourself to the Curragh tonight and marvel at the beauty of the pampered horses on view. One of them, Sinawann, looks pleasing to the eye at 10/1 with Betway in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden (5.40).

And the step up in trip should suit In From The Cold in the Irish EBF Supporting Irish Champions Weekend Nursery Handicap at Killarney Saturday.

Let’s just hope neither wins by too far, though then again, this is Ireland, where the authorities can at least tell a horse from an ass.

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Johnny Ward

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