Under-fire owner defends actions after landing big punt at Market Rasen

Adam McCormack (right) tweeted a picture with jockey Nathan Brennan after Little Rory Mac's win at Market Rasen
Adam McCormack (right) tweeted a picture with jockey Nathan Brennan after Little Rory Mac's win at Market Rasen

The owner who provoked a social media storm surrounding Little Rory Mac's victory at Market Rasen on Thursday insists he has not given racing a bad name.

Adam McCormack sparked uproar on Twitter with his posts before and after Little Rory Mac's seven-length success as the 15-8 favourite under 10lb claimer Nathan Brennan in the 2m½f handicap hurdle for conditional jockeys.

Leading owner John Dance was among those to take issue with the comments, with many others also questioning whether McCormack's actions were bad for racing's image.

McCormack tweeted before the race at Market Rasen that he might have a small each-way bet on Little Rory Mac and that the horse was too short having opened up on course at 13-8.

After Little Rory Mac romped home he then boasted about his winnings, and bookmakers Star Sports tweeted they had paid out £60,000 to the owner after he placed a bet of £20,000 at 2-1 around 20 minutes before the race.

The Henry Oliver-trained five-year-old had caught the attention of the stewards when finishing sixth on his previous start at Warwick, with jockey Liam Heard receiving a ten-day ban for "failing to ride his mount in such a way that he could be seen to ask for real or substantial effort to obtain the best possible placing".

Little Rory Mac was subsequently dropped 2lb by the BHA handicapper.

"I've not given racing a bad name," McCormack, 36, said on Friday. "Fair enough, some of my actions were uncalled for on social media, but that's it. I shouldn't have put up my middle finger to them and posted various pictures, but I'm just the owner who turns up at the races."

McCormack, who runs six horses under the name of his Bury-based packaging firm The Vacuum Pouch Company, briefly changed his Twitter profile picture to a photo of a handbrake "just for a laugh" and in response to those complaining about the performance of Little Rory Mac at Warwick.

"I've had loads of people sending me messages over the past four weeks asking when I'm taking the handbrake off," he said. "I wish there was a handbrake as I would have took it off at Warwick when he was 12-1.

"Plenty of people had his card marked after Warwick and I can understand why, but the jockey said he blew up in the back straight before running on at the end.

"There are plenty of gambles by big owners and just because I've highlighted it people are getting on my back. I haven't landed a gamble, I've landed a punt on my horse in a very weak race."

The raceday stewards at Market Rasen did not hold an inquiry into Little Rory Mac's performance.

A BHA spokesperson said on Friday: "The horse was subject to a running and riding inquiry on its previous start, where the jockey was given a ten-day suspension for not being seen to ask his mount for a real, timely and substantial effort.

"It is standard practice not to hold improvement in form inquiries for horses who have been found not to have been ridden on their merits last time out, because the concerns over their previous runs have already been highlighted and suitable action taken.

"In general though, the fact that the stewards haven’t held an inquiry doesn’t mean a matter won't be investigated further if appropriate to take into account any pertinent information that comes to light subsequently.

"It is not acceptable for anyone bound by the rules of racing to act or conduct themselves in a manner that is prejudicial to the good reputation of the sport.

"In line with usual procedure, however, we wouldn't comment on specific cases or speculation surrounding potential investigations."

Not everyone took offence to the episode with some posts congratulating McCormack on landing a coup.

On-course bookmaker Barry Pinnington tweeted: "Just reading the threads concerning @Adams_gg_bets and his gamble. I have to say that Adam puts his money where his mouth is, fair play to him. When he comes into the ring, he bets in readies most races and loves a good punt . . . what’s wrong with that?"

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Andrew DietzReporter
Published on 6 December 2019Last updated 18:38, 6 December 2019