Johnson and McNally quizzed over jockey switch as gamble is foiled
A big gamble on Northern Irish raider The Trigger came unstuck in the 2m4½f handicap hurdle when the eight-year-old, backed from 10-1 in the morning down to 2-1 favourite on course, could finish only fourth behind Overtoujay.
However, controversy surrounded the plunge as Jonathan England, the jockey originally booked for the ride, was replaced by Richard Johnson and the substitution aroused interest from the BHA integrity department.
The stewards at the Lincolnshire course held an inquiry into the jockey change prior to the race given that The Trigger had been the subject of a significant move in the betting. After interviewing Johnson and trainer Ronan McNally and noting their explanations, a report was forwarded to the head office of the BHA.
The BHA were unable to comment on the matter on Friday evening, as the referral has made the case an ongoing investigation.
In the race itself, the gamble looked like being landed as The Trigger landed in front at the final hurdle, but he found little on the run-in and eventually had to settle for fourth spot, beaten around a length by the Adam Pogson-partnered winner.
Johnson and McNally enjoyed better fortune in the 3m novice handicap chase as De Baba Elephant found what was required to outgun long-time leader Washed Ashore to follow up his recent Hexham win.
Percy powers home
Punters who like to follow the money would have also been left bemused by the outcome of the opening 2m½f juvenile hurdle as topweight Costa Percy stayed on well to win from 100-1 chance Satis House.
Despite having won on his hurdling debut at Hexham, Costa Percy was readily opposed in the market as City Dreamer and Bowban were backed into 11-10 favourite and 7-4 second favourite, even though they had finished behind the the winner last time.
Both City Dreamer (pulled up) and Bowban (unseated rider when beaten) were disappointing while the Jennie Candlish-trained victor boxed on for Sean Quinlan to score by an ever-widening 27 lengths.
Earthmoves comes through trial
The feature 2m5½f handicap chase was billed as a trial for the course’s annual feature next month – the Summer Plate – and it proved a rollercoaster ride for punters. Favourite-backers were ultimately left smiling, though, as market leader the Peter Bowen-trained Earthmoves rallied strongly to get up and beat The Clock Leary.
In-running punters were left licking their wounds, however, as The Clock Leary hit a low of 1.08 on Betfair when looking all over the winner before failing to hold the late thrust of the winner who touched a high of 120.