Butler - Nothing in stable lad link

  • Last Updated: January 23 2014, 17:50 GMT

John Butler insisted it was just coincidence the same stable lad led Low Key as well as Des Donovan's Indus Valley into the winner's enclosure at Kempton on Wednesday to complete a spectacular four-horse betting coup strongly linked to legendary gambler and former trainer Barney Curley.

Action on the all-weather
Action on the all-weather

All eyes had been on those two horses at the evening fixture after Eye Of The Tiger, also trained by Donovan, who is based at a yard once occupied by Curley, and the former Curley-trained Seven Summits struck at Catterick for Sophie Leech in the afternoon.

While bookmakers were counting the cost of the audacious gamble, Curley's former assistant Butler said he had just been getting on with supervising his horse.

"I suppose a lot of people are trying to put one and one together, but that was purely by coincidence," the Newmarket trainer told At The Races.

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"I've a small yard and I travelled to the races yesterday by myself and he asked me if I wanted the horse to be led up by him and I said fine.

"As it turned out I actually led the horse up myself because I just know the horse so well. He just brought him into the winner's enclosure afterwards with the sheets. That was basically a coincidence as such, spur of the moment. I didn't think much of it at the time."

Butler explained he was aware of the gamble as the day unfolded.

"From 11 o'clock onwards yesterday my phone was busy and at that stage I was en route to Kempton and I didn't get to see any of the races bar the first that won," he said.

"The horse that won at Catterick and later at Lingfield I didn't see as I was en route on the M25.

"He (Low Key) won nicely. I must admit I thought Liam Keniry gave him a lovely ride. The visor has definitely made a difference to him and everyone was happy.

"I worked for Barney for three or four years when I came across from Ireland from Aidan O'Brien's. Barney was always very good to me.

"We parted company two and a half years ago when I moved out of his yard to set up on my own. I see Barney around the town. As everyone knows around Newmarket it's a small community.

"I suppose he has semi-retired. I do know he spends a lot of his time in Africa with DAFA (Direct Aid For Africa) which he is the founder of and as far as I know he was in Africa for Christmas.

"He spends the majority of his time in Africa. I couldn't say where he is at the moment. He could even be in Africa this morning."

British Horseracing Authority spokesman Robin Mounsey said it was imperative that the betting public has "full confidence" in racing but would only act in a case where Rules breaches were found to have occurred.

Mounsey said: "It is BHA policy never to comment on an investigation or speculation surrounding a potential investigation. However, BHA's role as regulator is to ensure that the betting public has full confidence in the integrity of British Racing and that the Rules of Racing are seen to be adhered to. We take any issue which might affect the betting public's perception of the sport seriously and would act if - and only if - breaches of the Rules of Racing be established."

Mounsey said previous rides of the horses in question would be reviewed.

He said: "Our integrity team was aware of, and closely monitored, Wednesday's sequence of events from their outset, including liaising with the stewards at each of the courses as to the betting patterns, and other information, and are now collating the full set of circumstances. This remains ongoing. As part of this process we will be reviewing the previous rides given to these horses to establish whether any breaches of the Rules might have been committed."

Horses like Eye Of The Tiger were winning off career-low marks, in his case one 11lb lower than when last of 13 at Haydock in September 2012. A German Group Two winner in his younger days, the son of Tiger Hill was rated 112 when making his British debut at Newbury in April 2012.

Mounsey said: "It is not uncommon for horses to be dropped by significant amounts following poor performances in certain circumstances, such as those which applied to some of the horses in question. They have similar profiles in that they showed creditable form when racing overseas but then have moved to this country after a lengthy absence and subsequently performed very poorly.

"The handicappers are required to revise the mark for these horses based on their subsequent form in this country unless there are specific grounds for refusing to do so based on a running and riding concern, of which there was no evidence at the time. It is the handicappers role to try to enable every horse to be competitive on their next run and considering the repeated poor performance they had no choice but to drop those horses' marks.

"This is standard handicapping practice. For example, Acropolis, following his fourth in the Arc in 2004 was rated 120. He subsequently came to England and finished 18th in the November Handicap in 2008 off a mark of 94, and 14 months later, after six unsuccessful runs in handicaps, eventually went on to run off a mark of 55, a further drop of 39lb in total."

The latest gamble of the week was lost as Pipers Piping finished down the field behind his stablemate Prohibition in the Try Our Hospitality Handicap at Kempton.

Bookmakers were able to breathe a sigh of relief as Mandy Rowland's eight-year-old came from last to first to take the seven-furlong handicap under 3lb claimer Ross Atkinson.

Prohibition (16-1) was slowly away while the well-backed Pipers Piping held a handy pitch in fifth as the veteran Cavalry Guard made the early running.

Chris Catlin switched Pipers Piping to make his bid in the straight but his supporters never looked like collecting as Prohibition swooped late to land a shock win by two lengths from Ryedale Lass.


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