Berry hopeful Get Me Out can defy conditions
FRANK BERRY fears the soft conditions are a blow to the chances of Get Me Out Of Here landing the totesport Trophy for the second successive year.
The Grade Three contest was part of Newbury's fixture last Saturday, which was abandoned after just one race when two horses died in the paddock, having been accidentally electrocuted.
Jonjo O'Neill's seven-year-old was a hugely impressive winner of the competitive handicap 12 months ago and went on to finish an excellent second to Menorah in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Results so far this season have not been so promising, however, with defeats at Ascot and Cheltenham meaning he's on something of a recovery mission at Newbury today, where he will be ridden by Tony McCoy.
Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: "The extra week won't be a problem; Jonjo is happy with him and he's in good form.
"They've had a bit of rain, though, and that would be a bit of a worry with the weight he has. The better the ground the better he'd have liked it, but we'll take our chance."
A field of 23 was originally declared but, with the likes of the Willie Mullins-trained Final Approach, Iolith and David Pipe's Ronaldo Des Mottes not taking their chance this time, just 15 will go to post.
Solix is set to make his first start on British soil having arrived from France with a big reputation, while Nicky Henderson also saddles last season's Triumph Hurdle winner Soldatino and Eradicate.
Meanwhile, findings from the investigation into last Saturday's tragic incident have confirmed accidental electrocution was to blame for the deaths of the two horses.
There were no surprises in the post-mortem reports on Marching Song and Fenix Two, published yesterday, and reassurances on the safety of the site from local electricity officials, who have subsequently removed an offending cable, overcame any remaining obstacles to racing today.
A statement from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) declared that "an electrical discharge" was responsible for the fatalities.
Professor Tim Morris, the BHA's director of equine science and welfare, described how racecourse vets "felt a tingling sensation when examining the horses".
He added: "Both horses suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Samples have shown no evidence of substances that could have caused this incident. These findings are all consistent with the cause of death being accidental electrocution."
Wild rumours and theories circulating after the incident can now be dismissed. Professor Morris eliminated one of the most persistent stories when he stated: "Contrary to speculation, no evidence of any burn marks around the mouth (of the horses) were found."
Clearance to race was a welcome formality but, for Newbury's executive, this will be one more day of unmerciful scrutiny.
Stephen Higgins, the managing director, has been a focus of attention since the unprecedented events and he does not expect that to change today. The BHA is continuing to investigate elements of the episode but Higgins strongly defended the decision to run the first race before abandoning the card.
"We had to try and secure the paddock and that meant getting people away," he said.
"The horses were at the start and they had all been thoroughly checked by our vets. We were assured the race could be run without risk and that was the best way of clearing the affected area."