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Case grows for straps declaration; Two more winners show marked benefit from breathing device.

GRAHAM DENCH and TOM O'RYAN

THE case for the compulsory declaration of tongue-straps gained further momentum yesterday when two horses fitted with the device showed improved form to win.

One of them, Martin Pipe's Sprint Up, who had been pulled up on his two previous starts, won the selling hurdle at Fontwell by 13 lengths, prompting a stewards' inquiry.

The issue came under the spotlight last weekend when three horses-Cumbrian Challenge, Carley Lad, and Brancepeth Belle -all benefited from the use of tongue-straps, prompting senior stewards' secretary Patrick Hibbert- Foy to express concern that punters were being "left in the dark".

Hibbert-Foy argued that tongue-straps should be declared overnight, along with blinkers or visors, an idea which has the support of the Jockey Club's director of regulation Malcolm Wallace as well as the National Trainers' Federation.

Pipe's representative at Fontwell, Craig Wylie, said afterwards: "That's the first time we've raced him in a tongue-strap and, although we can't be sure it's made the difference, we thought we had to try something after the way he's been running."

The stewards considered Sprint Up's improvement but decided not to hold an inquiry after Wylie told them the gelding appeared to have benefited from wearing the tongue- strap.

Paul Barton, one of two stewards' secretaries on duty at the meeting, admitted that he was "on balance in favour of declaring tongue-straps", and argued that their overnight declaration was bound to come in time.

But, recalling the occasions on which a tongue-strap has come loose at the start and had then been unable to be refitted, Barton warned of practical problems before a new system could work efficiently.

The issue also came under the spotlight at Catterick yesterday with the victory of Fils de Cresson.

The James Adam-trained eight-year-old won a maiden chase after being fitted with a tongue-strap for the first time.

Adam is in favour of the declaration of the equipment, reasoning: "If we're trying to make this game punter-friendly, it's important that the punter should know in advance that a horse is wearing a tongue-strap, just as he knows about horses wearing blinkers or a visor. I'm definitely in favour of a change."

nReports, page 67
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Dench, Graham; O'ryan, Tom
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 1, 1999
Words:365
Previous Article:Top owners snub jockeys' scheme; Sponsor search under threat as full extent of resistance to riders' logos is revealed.
Next Article:McCririck fuels debate.


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