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British trainer sides with Australians in Betfair row.

Byline: Lee Mottershead

PETER HARRIS, one of the British trainers set to be represented in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday week, expressed his sympathies yesterday for the Australian racing authorities in their battle against Betfair - a battle that threatens to prevent British involvement in next year's race, writes Lee Mottershead.

Haunted by betting exchange-fuelled integrity fears, Australian Racing Board chief executive Andrew Harding has called for a ban on British-trained runners in its major events unless Betfair is outlawed.

Desperate to put a stop to Betfair's involvement in Australian racing, the ARB has even indicated that it could seek to persuade other leading international racing nations to close the door to British horses if Betfair is not de-licensed in the near future.

Expressing his own doubts about the benefit of exchanges, Harris, who saddles Barolo in the big race, said: 'I understand the Australian position. Their funding comes from the Tote, while Betfair pays virtually nothing, just as it pays virtually nothing in Britain. I can see why they are very anti-Betfair.'

But a contrary opinion over the threat to ban British horses was expressed by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing supremo Harry Herbert - set to be represented by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Distinction next month - who said: 'The threat is completely ridiculous and over the top. I hope it was said only in the heat of the moment and that diplomacy can prevail, as international competition is hugely important for the sport worldwide.

'The Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup have been promoted extremely effectively by the Victoria Racing Club, and we're going out there because of all the efforts they have made.'

Pacific Dancer was the subject of what Coral called a 'substantial ante-post plunge' after his victory in the Geelong Cup yesterday persuaded the firm to slash his odds to 14-1 from 33-1.

Coral were not alone. Totesport reacted even more strongly and cut Pacific Dancer to 12-1 (from 33), while William Hill went 14-1 (from 25), the three firms having taken evasive action following the Queensland four-year-old's impressive success in a race won by Media Puzzle en route to his 2002 Flemington triumph. Pacific Dancer picked up a penalty that guarantees his place in the Cup.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 21, 2004
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