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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Owner of banned Classic Seniority fumes over horse's treatment at the stalls

Classic Seniority: banned from racing for six months for failing to enter the stalls on three occasions in a year
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The furious joint-owner of Classic Seniority, banned for not entering the stalls at Goodwood, hit out on Monday at the efforts of the stalls handlers and claimed "an O'Brien or Godolphin horse, or one ridden by Dettori" would not have received the same treatment.

Tony Huggins joined trainer Marjorie Fife in insisting they "did not get a fair crack of the whip" from the handlers and starter at Goodwood on Saturday before the horse was banned for six months for failing to enter the stalls for a third time in a year in the consolation Stewards’ Cup.

Classic Seniority is the sole horse in training for HuggyMac Racing, comprising Huggins and John McAlpine, and Huggins spoke in dismay at the ban and its severity. The six-year-old will not be able to race until February, a situation described as a massive blow for everyone involved by Huggins.

Huggins said on Monday: “The ban seems very harsh. He loaded really well, once with a blindfold and once without, on his last two starts, and we came away from Goodwood feeling we'd had a very unfair representation from the stalls handlers and starter.

“One stalls handler tried to load him initially, whereas if there had been others around him then he’d have gone straight in, and then they tried to push him in sideways second time around and that was it."

Huggins added: "When he ran at Hamilton the time before, the start was delayed by 12 minutes by Hoof It, who went crazy and did not want to go in the stalls.

“We feel very much like we got the short end of the stick and I feel very strongly about it. I don’t think an O’Brien or Godolphin horse or one ridden by Frankie [Dettori] would have got the same treatment.

"If a team of them had tried loading him three times correctly then I would have said fair enough, but that wasn't the case. Several trainers and friends feel we were rushed too.”

Watch the consolation Stewards' Cup at Goodwood on Saturday

A rule 4 deduction of 10p in the pound was made following the withdrawal of 9-1 shot Classic Seniority, with a return to the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup meeting – at which he landed the Bronze Cup two years ago – thwarted for connections.

Huggins, who works in the motor trade, added: "To have a horse even good enough to be entered at Glorious Goodwood was a dream come true, and we were so excited going down there, so it really was disappointing.

“He’s a fantastic horse and the best Marjorie has had, so it’s a massive blow for everyone. Marjorie is first class and her team do a fantastic job.”

More than two-third of votes on a Racing Post Twitter poll on Monday asking whether the ban was too harsh, too soft or about right, considered it too harsh.

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I don’t think an O’Brien or Godolphin horse or one ridden by Frankie [Dettori] would have got the same treatment
E.W. Terms
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