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Club probe into Plumpton fiasco; Rider Greene defends explanation that he was blinded by sun.

Byline: Graham Green

THE Jockey Club's security department has launched an investigation into the betting patterns surrounding the extraordinary selling hurdle at Plumpton on Monday in which four of the six runners took the wrong course, writes Graham Green.

Rodi Greene, who was stood down for ten days after the incident, yesterday launched a vigorous defence of his explanation that he was blinded by the sun in the Beacon Selling Hurdle, won by the 6-4 favourite Our Slimbridge.

The Jockey Club, in launching its

inquiry, stressed the routine nature of the procedure, and last night the Betting

Office Licensees' Association said it had not received any report of unusual off-course activity.

The race in question was reduced to farce after the Greene-partnered Nazzaro ran out approaching the third flight.

Key Grip, in second place at the time, followed Nazzaro, while Bullens Bay and second-favourite Lightning Star were forced on to the same route by Ludere, who appeared to want to follow the others before jumping the obstacle and eventually finishing a well-beaten second.

The Plumpton stewards dismissed Greene's explanation for his mistake and imposed a ten-day suspension, with amateur Anthony Honeyball, the rider of Key Grip, receiving seven days. The other two riders to bypass the flight escaped punishment.

Jockey Club spokesman John Maxse said last night: "Owing to the circumstances of the incident, routine inquiries into the betting patterns of the race are currently being made by our security

department.

"In order for the matter to merit

further investigations, we would need

additional evidence beyond that of the incident itself."

Recorded on-course bets for Our Slimbridge amounted to just over pounds 10,000, which is not regarded as an unusual sum for a fancied runner with good form credentials in this type of event at Plumpton.

The security department's probe is sure to encompass offshore companies and the

illegal betting market, as well as researching Britain's major High Street chains. However, Ladbrokes said on Monday that they had no reason to be suspicious, and BOLA secretary Barry Faulkner echoed that view last night, saying: "We haven't heard anything unusual about the race."

A spokesman for Irish firm Paddy Power said: "We had the race priced up, but business was quiet. I checked with a couple of other firms this morning, but there was nothing untoward about it whatsoever."

Greene continues to harbour resentment over his ban, but is unlikely to appeal.

Speaking at Taunton yesterday, he said: "I very much doubt I will. However, I still think I've been penalised for something I couldn't see. The sun was in my eyes and it's like when you're driving a car-the first thing you do is put your hand above your eyes. By the time I'd realised where I was, we'd gone past the hurdle.

"I felt a bit of a prat, but that's the sort of thing that happens in these situations."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 31, 2001
Words:482
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