The executive of Warwick Racecourse have been fined £2,500 after the controversial abandonment of the last five races on their September 6 card.
They had to wait until last night to find the extent of their punishment after being found guilty by the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority at a hearing last Wednesday.
The case, which divided opinion among stewards and the weighing room, was brought by the BHA under the rule that covers ensuring a course is fit for racing.
Clerk of the course Fiona Needham abandoned racing following two inspections of the track by stewards and jockeys. What should have been a seven-race card was reduced to two owing to concerns about some false ground near the two-and three-furlong markers. The problem arose after the home bend was watered on the morning of the meeting.
Written submissions about the appropriate penalty for a breach of Rule 80 (ii) (e) were put in both by the BHA and Warwick Racecourse. The BHA said the fine should be at the upper end of the £1,000-£15,000 range, while Warwick officials felt it was an exceptional case where no fine should be imposed. Warwick, which is owned by Jockey Club Racecourses, have seven days to appeal.
The last racecourse to be found in breach of the rule was Redcar, which was fined £3,500 in April 2002 following the abandonment of a meeting the previous May. n Exotic Dancer could warm up for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup with an outing in handicap company in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton next month.
Owner Sir Robert Ogden's racing manager, Barry Simpson, has nominated the Grade Three contest on February 23 as a comeback event for the 2007 Gold Cup runner-up after he was ruled out of the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham last Saturday.
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained eight-year-old has pulled a back muscle but connections are still readying him to renew rivalry with reigning champion Kauto Star in the Gold Cup on March 14, for which he is 12-1 with sponsors totesport.
Simpson, speaking on the day Grand National entries closed, said: "We didn't put Exotic Dancer or Star De Mohasion in the Grand National this year. It is too early to say much about Exotic Dancer's recovery from his setback, but we have entered him in the Racing Post Chase. We have been pleased with the response over the last few days and we do want to get a race into him before Cheltenham."
Exotic Dancer has chased home Kauto Star on five different occasions and the latter's trainer, Paul Nicholls, confirmed that his stable star is in the Racing Post Chase. He said: "I have entered him, but that is only to give me options."
* Johnny Murtagh has been appointed as retained rider to the Coolmore operation.
The 37-year-old has ridden a number of big-race winners for Coolmore trainer Aidan O'Brien over the years, including the Epsom Derby on High Chaparral in 2002. His agent, Eddie Byrne, said: "Johnny is absolutely delighted with the appointment and to be riding for John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
"He'd like to thank Mick Halford and Ger Lyons, who have given him many winners in the last couple of seasons, and hopes to ride for them again when available.
"He's contracted to ride in Dubai until after the World Cup and then he will be coming back immediately. He is looking forward to his new appointment."
The move follows Kieren Fallon's 18-month suspension, handed out by the French racing authorities last week for testing positive for an illegal substance.
* Henry Daly has appealed against the decision of the Doncaster stewards to find the Shropshire trainer in breach of the non-triers' rule following the running of Oxley in the EBF St Leger Wines Club "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle on Friday.