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Claisse's tape error results in pounds 1,000 fine.

Byline: David Yates

A line was drawn under an embarrassing start to Simon Claisse's career as clerk of the course at Cheltenham when the Prestbury executive was fined pounds 1,000 yesterday for failing to mark out the track properly on his first day in charge.

The episode marked an ignominious return to Portman Square for Claisse, who spent 10 years working there,

becoming head of the Jockey Club's racecourse department and controller of point-to-pointing prior to taking over as clerk at Cheltenham before the course's first meeting of the season last month.

The misdemeanour concerned the absence of a length of tape-which is normally put up on the inside of the home straight as the runners enter the final circuit of a race-which resulted in Rufius taking the wrong course when he jinked left on the run-in of the Club 16-24 Novices' Handicap Chase on October 24.

Claisse immediately took responsibility for the omission, which he put down to a breakdown in communication between himself and the Cheltenham groundstaff.

But the Jockey Club's Disciplinary Committee held that the executive

collectively was in breach of Rule 80 (ii)(e) in respect of its failure to ensure the course was properly marked.

Claisse was unavailable for comment last night, but Cheltenham's managing director Edward Gillespie, who also attended the hearing, said: "We pleaded guilty to a breach. We explained what had occurred on the day and accepted that there had been a misunderstanding.

"Once the incident had occurred we immediately put the tape back on to mark the courses.

"We will make doubly sure that the course is properly marked in all future

occurrences.

"We don't like to be put in situations like today, and we don't want to be

returning in these circumstances in future.

"The severity of the fine is not important-it is a mark against our reputation and more important is the fact that we have been found in breach.

"Cheltenham puts in place tapes and markers over and above the minimum required by the Rules, and safety of jockeys and horses, plus the integrity of racing, are paramount.

"You are always going to have a breach in your career, and Simon has got his out of the way pretty early."

Explaining the decision to punish the course's executive collectively rather than Claisse personally, Jockey Club press officer John Maxse said yesterday: "Simon seems to get mentioned every time. He is the clerk of the course but, as far as we are concerned, the responsibility is with the Cheltenham executive."2

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Simon Claisse: embarrassing start to new career
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Words:432
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