Donald McCain stands by Noah And The Ark ride after BHA dismisses appeal
Trainer Donald McCain is standing by his decision to instruct Will Kennedy to give Noah And The Ark a hands-and-heels ride at Bangor last week, despite the pair's appeal against their schooling in public penalties being dismissed at a disciplinary panel hearing at the BHA on Thursday.
The four-year-old was ridden in rear in a novice hurdle before keeping on to finish fifth of nine. The Bangor stewards determined the ride broke rule 59.2, which states every jockey must give their horse a "timely, real and substantial effort".
While unsuccessful in having that verdict overturned, the panel did reduce the penalties handed out on the day, with McCain having his fine amended to £2,500 from £3,000, while Kennedy's ban was cut to ten days from 14 days. Noah And The Ark's ban from racing now stands at 30 days, down from 40.
Ultimately the panel considered the ride to be "too tender", and that it therefore constituted schooling in public.
McCain reflected: "I think the hearing was very fair and they listened to our points. The penalties were reduced, so in that sense it isn’t the end of the world."
McCain's barrister, fellow trainer Graeme McPherson, argued, on the evidence of Noah And The Ark's previous two starts, that an aggressive ride would have resulted in his finishing further behind than his 18-and-a-half-length fifth.
On his stable debut for the yard at Stratford he looked a certainty to win going into the final furlong, but faded quickly when pressed and finished last of six. The four-year-old similarly struggled when pushed on his next outing at Cartmel.
McCain added: "I think the principle of the fact is that I don’t school horses in public.
"Will rides a lot of horses for me and what was done on the day had every intention of producing the best finishing position for the horse. On every bit of form he’s shown so far, he did that."
He added: "The local stewards hadn’t seen it [his previous two runs] and I’m not sure how all of this stuff works, but we know the full history of the horse, and on the day we did the right thing. I would say it was the first time we’d seen something positive from the horse.
"We’ve done everything for the right reasons, so it’s disappointing I have been done for schooling in public."
Bangor is Cheshire-based McCain's closest track and the one at which he has been most successful, having been top trainer there every season since 2006.
The BHA made it clear it respected the records of McCain and Kennedy, but stated the Bangor stewards were "entirely correct in their decision, and the video evidence supports that decision".
McCain, one of the north's leading trainers and whose number-one rider Brian Hughes lies third in the Stobart jump jockeys' title race with 41 winners – Harry Skelton leads on 76 – is enjoying a fruitful season with 20 winners from 133 runners.
Kennedy has ridden two winners from 55 rides this season.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com