'The owner is raging about it' – Spare Parts in danger of Lingfield elimination
Phil McEntee has hit out at the conditions of Good Friday's apprentice handicap after learning that horses who have not raced on the all-weather all season could deprive winter star Spare Parts of a place in the line-up.
It is a requirement in all the card's six championship races that runners must have raced at least three times on the all-weather through the winter, or won a fast-track qualifier, but there is no such stipulation for the apprentice race, in which Spare Parts, currently tied with Captain Lars in the competition for the winter's winningmost horse – which comes with a £10,000 prize – is currently only 17th in line for a race with a safety limit of 14.
McEntee said: "It's going to sound like sour grapes, but we did raise the matter last year after Pearl Spectre missed the cut in similar circumstances, and I thought it had been addressed.
"I think there are eight horses above him that between them have raced less often this winter than Spare Parts has won, among them War Glory, who was second last year after one run and hasn't run at all this time, and Masham Star, who is rated 102 but still seems to get into this 0-100 without a ballot mark next to his name.
"I don't blame their connections – it's the conditions that are the problem as the race isn't catering for the right horses. His owner Steve Jakes is raging about it."
Although there are only 12 higher-rated horses above Spare Parts, he has been unlucky in the random ballot that orders horses on the same mark, since he has emerged last of five among those due to race off 91.
With elimination a real possibility, McEntee is relieved therefore that he made additional entries for Spare Parts in two of the card's championship events, and also that he declared him on Sunday morning for a 7f handicap at Southwell on Tuesday.
He said: "He's got no chance in either of the championship races on Good Friday but neither of them filled and we wanted the opportunity to clap Spare Parts around the parade ring to celebrate the fantastic winter he's had.
"As for Southwell, we had to make that decision at 10am, before we saw the weights for the Good Friday apprentice race, and although we were in two minds it's a good job we did confirm for Southwell, because if we hadn't we could have been sunk if Captain Lars finished in the first four in his race at Newcastle on Friday.
"We still could be, but if we finish in the first four on Tuesday we edge back in front. Spare Parts has never run at Southwell, but he's won at four of the other all-weather tracks and he's got the wide draw I wanted, so Nicola Currie can ride her own race and keep him out of the kickback."
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