Trainers to ask BHA for weekly Irish ratings
The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA) will request England's senior handicapper, Phil Smith, to publish a weekly list of ratings for Irish jumps horses, arising from the controversy over the Grand National.
Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown operation pulled out a scatter of horses from the £1m Aintree race this week. The Ryanair chief was angry at ratings allotted to some of his entries and there was further debate when Smith revealed his weights for the Cheltenham handicaps for Irish horses.
Galway trainer Pat Kelly was seething at the rating given to Presenting Percy. And it appears that his peers want more clarity. Eddie O'Leary, Gigginstown's racing manager, has insisted that it is not Smith's ratings that are the issue, but connections not knowing what he will come up with.
Michael Grassick of the IRTA said: "It is better that everyone knows. In normal circumstances you know your rating and if you're not happy you don't go into that race. We will likely write to the BHA asking it publishes ratings for the Irish horses on a weekly basis."
Kim Bailey - who trains last season's Aintree runner-up, The Last Samurai, to Gigginstown's Rule The World - told At The Races that Smith was getting harsh criticism. "Let the others scream as much as they like: it's not going to make an ounce of difference. Crying for what's happened is not necessarily going to do you any good," he said.
"The handicapper is pretty sharp and pretty good at his job. We'll moan like fury but not necessarily (is it) the right way to behave. We were so close last year. Michael O'Leary had a horse that was thrown in and beat us."
Grassick, meanwhile, added that the IRTA was seeking a meeting with Dr Lynn Hillyer, the Turf Club's chief medical officer, over the recent Look Closer affair.
The horse was banned as part of the non-trier rule and, crucially for the IRTA, veterinary evidence presented was not deemed to be "particularly relevant " to the case.
JP McManus had the blow of Barry Geraghty's injury to deal with last weekend and yesterday he was forced to plan for the Festival without Coney Island.
Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said: "He has a badly bruised foot at the wrong time. Punchestown is the aim."
Rich Ricci has expressed doubt about switching Limini from the OLBG Mares' Hurdle to the Champion Hurdle, though it is still expected it will happen.
"Susannah (Ricci's wife who co-owns Limini) and I have discussed it," Ricci said at a Festival preview night. "If she'd been originally entered, it'd be a different matter, but to be supplementing, you really want to be doing that if you think you have a good chance of winning.
"Do you really want to be doing that and just finishing fourth? I'm going to talk to a few experts and see what they say. It's a possibility but nothing has been decided."
As has become custom, a number of Cheltenham entries are set to gallop and school on the track after the final race at Leopardstown tomorrow.
Berry's son Fran returned at Lingfield yesterday. He partnered newcomer Ulysses to finish a neck second to 4/5 favourite Addicted To You in the mile-and-a-half maiden.