Arthurs Secret: on the way to his last win four years ago under James Reveley at Musselburgh
The revolution has started. The new independent panels appointed by the BHA to hear appeals against its handicappers have spoken marginally in favour of trainer Sandy Thomson.
Before too much excitement spreads through the ranks of owners and trainers, however, the two cases heard ahead of this week’s reassessments were mere skirmishes.
They resulted in Thomson getting his deposit back and some satisfaction over the handicapping of his nine-year-old Arthurs Secret and Nendrum.
Arthurs Secret, described by the panel as a victim of his own consistency, was initially left unchanged on his mark of 120 after his fourth at Ayr on January 2, but the appeals panel agreed he should be dropped 2lb.
Nendrum was dropped 1lb for his fourth at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day but Thomson got another pound taken off his rating. The trainer reports the ten-year-old to be now on a break after a busy time.
Arthurs Secret is set to put the judgement of a panel of the Racing Post’s Graham Dench and Keith Melrose, as well as commentator and Weekender writer Simon Holt, to the test at Kelso next Tuesday.
Thomson had a word of warning for his colleagues, however, after testing the water.
The trainer said: “It has been a very interesting exercise and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it, learning more about how handicappers think, but I don’t know if I’d do it again. It’s quite time consuming going through all the process, putting your thoughts down, getting a reply and then waiting for a verdict.”
Nendrum highlighted one of the contentious BHA handicapping rules that allows handicappers to raise the rating of fallers at the last or second-last obstacles.
“Horses that fall shouldn’t be reassessed,” said Thomson, referring to Nendrum having been raised 7lb after being 11 lengths clear when falling in his race before finishing fourth next time out.
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