The sore Horsemen of the Apocalypse: mount your high horses at Leicester, slip off quietly at Newbury

Trainer Andrew Balding stoutly refused to declare his runner for tomorrow’s controversial Leicester race worth £7,000 less than it was ‘supposed to be’ according to the Horsemen’s tariff.  Yet Mr Balding’s strong feelings about defending the tariff seem to have been set aside at declaration time for  tomorrow’s Totescoop6 Spring Cup at Newbury where he runs Brick Red  in a race offering almost £14,000 less than the tariff level.

Mr Balding said,  “I’m pretty strong on the tariffs, but we have to judge every race on its merits. It’s still a £30,000 race and it’s just down the road. It’s tough for older  horses  with  the  programme. He missed the Lincoln and we’ve got no options to get him handicapped for races like the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.”

Is there a more staunch advocate of tariffs than Mark Johnston? Yet Mr Johnston has Greyfriarschorista in the Spring Cup explaining it away on the basis that by his reckoning the race is the equivalent of a normal 0-105 which would have a much lower tariff.

So Mr Balding is toeing the tariff line except when the track not meeting tariff is ‘just down the road’. And Mr Johnston has his own personal tariff menu based on his opinion of the race conditions.

The Horsemen set out on this tariff project with the zeal of crusaders.  It appears the only time they want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder now on it is to quietly cook up a walkover.

Those who are sticking to the tariff structure no matter what – at least you deserve praise for consistency.  Those who wriggle their way in and out of the tariff maze as it suits might want to consider checking in their principles when they pick up their badges at the racecourse entrance.  They can always quietly collect them again on the way out.

Joe McNally

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