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Missing My Bayard is 'as warm as toast'.

Byline: Bill Barber

MY BAYARD, the horse who disappeared from Wolverhampton racecourse on Saturday after a dispute over his ownership, has been reported safe and well, despite his whereabouts still being unknown, writes Bill Barber.

The horse was taken from the racecourse stables by former trainer Jimmy O'Reilly's assistant Michael Harris shortly before he was due to have his first run for John Balding.

O'Reilly said yesterday he did not know where My Bayard was, but had been told by Harris that he was fine. He added: 'Michael has assured me the horse has plenty of feed, plenty of water and is as warm as toast. I will vouch for him - he's looked after the horse for three years.'

A spokesman for West Midlands Police yesterday said the matter was still under investigation and confirmed the horse's whereabouts were unknown.

The five-year-old was due to run in the colours of Burntwood Sports Ltd, a business owned by Jack Saul, but Harris reportedly claims he is the gelding's rightful owner.

National Trainers' Federation chief executive Rupert Arnold, meanwhile, spoke of the need for confidence in racecourse security to be restored.

He said: 'Until we know all the facts, it's difficult to come to conclusions, but it's inevitable a lot of trainers and owners will have serious questions about security. We need answers to restore confidence and to make sure it doesn't happen again.'

The Jockey Club is waiting to hear from the police before looking at possible disciplinary action. A police spokesman said yesterday: 'We're making some enquiries trying to sort out whether this is a criminal or a civil case.'

An inquiry is already under way at the Jockey Club, and PR director John Maxse acknowledged lessons could be learned. He said: 'If people are determined enough it's difficult to stop them, but I'm sure there will be factors that come from this that will enable us to raise our standards even further.'

The Jockey Club is taking advantage of the upgrading of course stables to ensure each runner has its own box in order to introduce security improvements such as CCTV - which captured the events at Wolverhampton. Maxse said: 'It's worth pointing out that it was on an extremely busy day at Wolverhampton with ten races and a constant stream of horses coming in and out.

'We have to see how an accredited person was allowed in the security area when the trainer he is attached to didn't have a runner but, on the upside, the CCTV captured more extensive and detailed evidence than the previous system would have.'
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 23, 2004
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