Flagship owner highlighted security breaches 18 years ago
Friday's breach of security by Gold Cup intruder Richard Melia was far from an isolated incident according to Michael Krysztofiak, the owner of Flagship Uberalles, who yesterday revealed that as long ago as 2002 he had asked for security to be called after a man kept appearing in the winner’s enclosure alongside his multiple Grade 1 winner.
The Racing Post yesterday unmasked Melia as the man who led in Sizing John on Friday, but Krysztofiak said he had highlighted concerns about another festival gatecrasher 18 years earlier.
He had first spotted the unknown intruder after Flagship Uberalles, who Krysztofiak owned with wife Elizabeth Gutner, had won the 1999 Arkle.
“It wasn’t until we got home and all the photos poured in and we watched the video that we noticed this guy just hovering around,” he said. “I immediately got in touch with Edward Gillespie and sent him photographs and said this guy needs to be banned.
“We were back in the winner’s enclosure for the Queen Mother in 2002 and Richard [Johnson] had not even got off the horse and this guy was hovering around us. I was so angry he was there again I asked for security, but nothing happened.
“On the videos he is behind me when I am being interviewed and he is nodding his head as if he’s one of us. It spoilt the moment for me. Every photograph, every video we have winning the Arkle, he’s in it. He used to go in like he was a regular, something to do with the whole thing, but he wasn’t, and it really annoyed us.”
The Racecourse Association said it would share with tracks any details it had on Melia, who had past form for intruding having wangled his way into Collier Bay’s Champion Hurdle celebrations in 1996 and led in big names Frankel, Camelot and Auroras Encore as well as featuring at other major sporting events.
The RCA said it updated advice to racecourses in January on ways to prevent unauthorised access to the parade ring.
“Following the incident at Cheltenham where a gentleman got himself into the parade ring after the Gold Cup we will ensure all racecourses are aware of his identity so they can be vigilant in the future,” said spokesman Will Aikenhead.
“While it is not in our remit to ban people, we work closely with all of our members as well as the BHA to alert them to previous offenders and request that they look out for any such individuals and prevent them from gaining unauthorised access to the parade ring and other non-public areas. Ultimately, it is the decision of the racecourses themselves if they wish to ban individuals.
“We had a similar incident in 2014 when a gentleman was spotted on a number of occasions in parade rings (mainly at Kempton and Wolverhampton) standing in close proximity to groups of owners and picking up discarded equipment.
“When questioned he claimed to be with trainers – claims which were untrue. There was no evidence of any wrongdoing but we worked with racecourses to ensure everybody was aware of him and were ultimately successful in stopping him doing this.”
The BHA would not disclose whether any action would be taken against Melia. “Security around the parade ring is primarily a racecourse issue,” said spokesman Robin Mounsey. “The BHA is able to assist where possible in terms of gathering and sharing intelligence.”
Betfair’s head of media relations Barry Orr yesterday admitted blagging his way into the winner’s enclosure after Flakey Dove’s 1994 Champion Hurdle win when he worked for his bookmaker father Paddy.
“I wasn’t as brazen as the guy who led in the Gold Cup winner,” he said. “We had backed Flakey Dove that day and were overcome with joy, and we knew Mark Dwyer who was riding her.
“Years and years before that my dad Paddy led in one Willie Mullins rode for John Mulhern in the 70s.
“Historically Irish fellas would have done that for years, through being associated with horses – the association only being that they had backed it and were overcome with joy.”