False start drama in Newcastle finale

Seven withdrawals as favourite prevails in the restart..

  • Saturday 12 December
  • News
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Klopp claimed a controversial victory in the closing Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap at Newcastle on Saturday.

The 11-4 shot was an easy victor for trainer Anthony Brittain and jockey Harry Russell in a race that was decimated by seven withdrawals following a false start.

A total of 13 runners were set to contest the five-furlong event and all the horses but Klopp were in the stalls when the gates opened, leaving Russell’s mount behind.

The starter immediately waved the recall flag, but a number of riders struggled to pull up their mounts and connections of seven runners opted to withdraw their horses from the restart.

That left just six to contest the race, with all but Klopp having run at least part of the distance, and the market leader duly prevailed by three and a quarter lengths.

A stewards report stated: “An inquiry was held into the circumstances surrounding the false start of this race.

“The starters, the starting stalls team leader, the clerk of the course, the advanced flag operator and all riders were interviewed and shown recordings.

“Having heard their evidence, the stewards ordered a report to be forwarded to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority.”

Island Brave had earlier lived up to his name when booking his ticket for All-Weather Championships Finals Day in the Betway Conditions Stakes.

Trained in Kingston Lisle by Heather Main, Cieren Fallon was on board the 14-1 shot and got his fractions spot on.

It was a classy affair with Australis, Mildenberger, Raymond Tusk, Rainbow Dreamer and Who Dares Wins setting a high standard.

But it was Island Brave, a 33-1 winner at Ascot in August, who held on gamely.

Rainbow Dreamer and Australis were with the eventual winner as the field entered the final furlong, but Island Brave was able to hold on by half a length from Roger Varian’s Australis with Rainbow Dreamer a neck back in third.

“I am absolutely delighted with that as I have had my eye on this race for quite a while,” said Main.

“Island Brave won a nice handicap over a mile and a half at Newcastle a couple of years ago and I thought this race would really suit him, as he seems to be getting the two miles really nicely now.

“It has to be one of his best performances given the ratings of some of the opposition and that fact it was level weights. In my eyes, he is getting better and better!

“We will back off him now over the Christmas period, just to freshen him up, and then he will have at least one run in the build up to Finals Day.”

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