What a tip: Worcester fined £5,000 after pictures reveal shabby saddling boxes
Worcester racecourse was taken to task by a BHA disciplinary panel which described two racecourse stable boxes as looking like "a rubbish tip" at the meeting on October 12.
The incident came to light when Jonjo O'Neill-trained runners were put in a pair of boxes on arrival.
The panel heard the boxes initially appeared to be in a proper state but, when visited a few moments later, the horses were found to be eating food on the ground which had been uncovered by them pawing at the fresh bedding.
When describing the pictures of the boxes, the panel's findings were that "the impression given was that one was looking at a rubbish tip, but that was principally because the bedding used was paper bedding, and that had been pushed aside to reveal the feed and other matter beneath".
The horses were immediately moved to other boxes. The racecourse vet inspected the boxes, concluding that what the horses had been eating looked like cereal foodstuff, which was normal feed for a racehorse, so they were allowed to run.
There was an inquiry on the day and the clerk of the course Libby O'Flaherty said a random check of some of the boxes had been made in the morning.
The panel did not accept the two boxes had been simply overlooked for the statutory cleaning and disinfecting after the previous meeting two weeks earlier.
In imposing a fine of £5,000, the panel found that "it seemed probable that the boxes were not just overlooked in the course of cleaning operations that took place after the meeting on September 29, 2017: they were tended, but only to the extent of putting fresh bedding to cover any matter on the ground which included old feed".
The panel said it had set a £7,000 fine but reduced it as Worcester had made a commitment to make sure there would be no repeat, with staff made fully aware of their responsibilities to clean and disinfect the boxes.
The same meeting also drew criticism for small fields, with drying ground leading to a brace of two-runner races and a three-runner heat.
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