Big Melon drift in run-up to Irish Champion Hurdle to be investigated
Melon's major drift on Betfair, from 3.6 to 6.2 within the space of 90 seconds before Saturday's Irish Champion Hurdle, is under investigation by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.
The betting patterns surrounding Yorkhill are also being examined by the IHRB after the gelding was easy to back before the Dublin Chase on the same afternoon. Both horses, trained by Willie Mullins, were soundly beaten.
Melon was trading at 3.6 on the betting exchange at 3.28pm on Saturday but was available at 6.2 just 90 seconds later. By the time the race went off at 3.30 he had shortened a little into 5.9.
But IHRB chief executive Denis Egan believes the betting patterns were suspicious enough to be looked into.
Melon market watch on Betfair
3.20pm – 3.95
3.22 – 4.0
3.24 – 3.85
3.26 – 3.75
3.28 – 3.6
3.28.30 – 4.9
3.29 – 5.5
3.29.30 – 6.2
3.30 – 6.2
3.30.28 (off time) – 5.9
Egan said: "There are two individual races where betting patterns caught our attention. There were a number of lay bets which require answers. We are investigating the matter and waiting on information from Betfair. Once we have all the information, we can decide whether to investigate the matter further."
He added: "There might be perfectly legitimate answers to explain the betting patterns but we felt that we needed to look into it. We hope to have answers very soon, certainly in the next day or two."
Melon's starting price was officially 7-2 and he produced the worst effort of his career, beaten 12 lengths into fifth behind Supasundae, who boasted an identical rating of 159 before the race.
The Dublin Chase was won by 11-8 favourite Min, with easy-to-back stablemate Yorkhill, who started the day odds-on, drifting out to 7-4 before the off and finishing sixth, over 80 lengths adrift.
Blake said: "Yorkhill was absolutely disappointing. He always takes a strong grip but he was the complete opposite. He was stone cold. He was completely flat.
"He drifted very heavily on the day. I was really disappointed with the stewards that they did not look for an explanation from connections. I am not suggesting for one minute than there was anything amiss, but there might have been with the horse. We just don't know because the stewards did not ask the question.
"That's the job the stewards are there to do. There were a few horses who ran below form on Saturday but they didn't ask the question. I just don't know what they are doing in there. That is their job, to inform the racing public of what's happened. If they don't ask the question, we won't know what's happened."
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