Wolverhampton: Earl Of Bunnacurry was a winner at the course on Wednesday

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A likely red-hot favourite has been denied the chance to complete a quickfire hat-trick at Wolverhampton on Saturday after a handicapping error by the BHA.

Earl Of Bunnacurry, trained by Gavin Cromwell in Ireland, was forecast to go off the 7-4 favourite for the 1m1½f 0-60 handicap on the all-weather, running off a mark of 58 constructed from his rating at time of entry of 52, plus a 6lb penalty for winning at the course on Wednesday.

However, on Friday the BHA exercised its right to prevent the horse from running after it was spotted that the four-year-old had not been correctly reassessed following a victory at Southwell on November 12, a performance that had warranted a 9lb rise in the weights.

The authority informed trainer Gavin Cromwell on Friday afternoon that he could not run Earl Of Bunnacurry, who should have had a rating of 61, claiming the horse would have been eliminated from the race if he had been considered from his correct mark.

While horses rated 1lb or 2lb above the ceiling rating for a race have been allowed to run in them since the BHA amended the rules in November 2016, those with ratings above the handicap band are first on the list of horses to be removed if eliminations are required.

Apology issued

In a statement, the BHA said there was no opportunity to revise Earl Of Bunnacurry’s weight due to the rule which prevents changes to the published weight after 9am on the day of declaration. As such, the decision was taken to remove the horse instead of allowing him to run off a mark 9lb below his official rating.

The BHA added: “The BHA has offered its apologies to the horse’s trainer and owner, and extend those to the jockey and stable staff connected to the horse. We have offered to compensate connections for the inconvenience.

“The BHA’s processes will be reviewed to reduce the risk of a similar incident occurring. Any further action will be an internal matter to the BHA.”

Cromwell was phlegmatic about the mistake. He said: “It’s very disappointing but it’s down to human error and these things can happen.

“He came out of his win there on Wednesday in good form and we were looking forward to running him again. He’s on his way home.” 

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