A storm has erupted on social media after a trainer was fined £140 for waving his arms.
Henry Oliver (pictured, below) was issued the fine by stewards at Uttoxeter after he was “found guilty of misconduct” at the start of the SWUK Steel Decking Handicap Chase on 26 January.
This was because Oliver encouraged Burrenbridge Hotel, who had been reluctant to line up, by “waving his arms behind the gelding”.
The decision has drawn criticism on social media, with 20-time champion jump jockey AP McCoy labelling it as “embarrassing rubbish”.
David Redvers added: “Sometimes a quiet word can suffice and a penalty can be awarded if the offence is repeated. Sometimes enforcing the letter of the law can make the enforcer look an ass.”
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) defended the stewards’ decision.
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“Trainers are not permitted to encourage their horses to start, and that rule is there for a good reason,” said a statement from the BHA.
“We set a lot of store in our sport behind the fact that we do not force horses to race and that they do so of their own free will.
“Moreover, in the interests of a fair, even start, individual horses should not have the attentions of a trainer or representative to get them on their way.
“For these reasons only the jockeys and starters are permitted to effect or influence the start.”
The statement added that once a rule has been breached, a penalty will follow “otherwise the rule is not enforceable”.
“However, we have an appeal system and Mr Oliver is able to appeal his penalty should he wish,” it concluded.
Mr Oliver told the Racing Post he has been amazed by the support and will not be appealing the fine as he does not want to waste “my time or theirs”.
“At the end of the day there are rules and I appreciate that, but we invest a lot of time and money in our horses. My horses come first as far as I am concerned,” he added, suggesting perhaps the BHA could have a rethink of the rule.
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