BHA scrap rearranged Dipper
The presence of Captain Conan and Unioniste was not enough to save the 32Red HBLB Dipper Novices' Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
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Originally intended for Cheltenham on New Year's Day, the British Horseracing Authority rescheduled the Grade Two contest when that meeting was lost to the weather.
However, it did so under the stipulation that the race could still be abandoned if there were less than four declarations.
Nicky Henderson declared Captain Conan and Paul Nicholls was to take him on with Unioniste.
However, Ben Case was the only other trainer to confirm his intention to run with Brass Tax - even though there were seven initial entries when the race was reopened.
BHA racing manager Stuart Middleton commented: "Owing to the fact that the race received fewer than four declarations the rescheduled Dipper Novices' Chase has been cancelled. The cost to stage the race would have required £17.5k of Levy Board funds which was not viewed as the best use of industry money for a three-runner race.
"Trainers consulted in advance of the rescheduled race being publicised were in agreement with the principle of cancelling the race if fewer than four runners were declared. Ultimately, with four entries between them, Paul and Nicky had the fate of the race in their own hands, but I appreciate that things are never quite that simple. It is a shame, but it was definitely worth trying."
However, not everyone was satisfied with the decision to scrap the contest.
Trainer Donald McCain, writing in his Betfair column, said: "I know that it was stated that it may be cancelled if there weren't four declarations but, for me, they have got their priorities wrong.
"Racing is not all about big fields and competitive handicaps - you need places for these better horses to run and gain experience and I am sure the Sandown racegoers would have been delighted to see Captain Conan take on Unioniste.
"I suppose the trainers involved could have declared another runner and taken it out to ensure that the race went ahead but, in acting honestly, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have been denied a chance to run two top-class novices.
"The powers that be are quite happy to stick an extra seven races on at Wolverhampton but not let a Grade Two novice chase featuring two 150-rated chasers go ahead."