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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

New rule keeps dreams alive but should finish off wild fantasies

Horses rated below 80 will no longer be able to run in Group 1 races
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In the 2006 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot the 75-rated Motafarred was sent off a 200-1 outsider. He did not win.

Not only did he not win, he finished last. He came home just over 165 lengths behind the victorious Yeats, earning the following form book comment: "Last after 6f, struggling 6f out, weakened 3f out, tailed off and walked last furlong."

In future years a horse holding what was then Motafarred's rating of 75 will not be able to run – or walk – in the Gold Cup, nor any British Group 1 race, save for those restricted to juveniles. This is to be welcomed.

Motafarred was certainly not a horse devoid of ability, far from it, as he subsequently won three handicaps, albeit over seven furlongs and a mile. He was, however, a horse lacking sufficient talent to have any possible chance of playing a meaningful part in the Gold Cup. He was a no-hoper.

He caused no trouble at Ascot but it seems logical to believe desperately outclassed performers are more likely to get in the way, potentially interfering with the chances of horses who do deserve to compete at the sport's highest level, both on the Flat and over jumps.

Not all those who have fielded horses with marks below 80 in Group 1s are from the sport's lower leagues. Indeed, John Gosden ran Dartford as a 74-rated pacemaker in the 2012 St Leger.

Even so, it is hard to imagine there are many trainers, at Gosden's level or below, who will be angered by a BHA move that has been put on the sport's statute book after it was raised by the Professional Jockeys Association.

Fairytales are still perfectly possible. As such, this decision does nothing to stop people dreaming. It will, however, put a stop to wild fantasies that could end up wrecking the chances of leading fancies.

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Fairytales are still perfectly possible. As such, this decision does nothing to stop people dreaming
E.W. Terms
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