The British Horseracing Authority has sent vets to the yard of Nicky Henderson to inspect the physical wellbeing of star chaser Altior "in the interests of fairness and transparency."
There has been controversy brewing over the participation of Altior at Kempton this weekend after the horse dramatically increased in price for the Silviniaco Conti Chase before the trainer tweeted that Altior would not run, and would give an update on his Unibet blog.
Owing to the fact that Altior still holds his entry for the Silviniaco Conti Chase at @kemptonparkrace on Saturday and has not yet been scratched, the BHA has moved to issue the following update⬇️ pic.twitter.com/huaPMQfA0u
— BHA Press Office (@BHAPressOffice) January 8, 2020
Henderson said on Tuesday that the Champion Chaser "just didn't look like Altior." However, it has emerged that despite the announcement about the change of running plans, Henderson did not officially scratch the horse, as he is obliged to do by BHA regulations.
According to Racing TV broadcaster Lydia Hislop, the BHA in 2018 tightened regulations regarding non-runners and when they can be announced.
The crucial rule below re: Hendo & Unibet... https://t.co/dxqBi6k4iI
— Thom Malone (@thom_malone) January 9, 2020
The issue for Henderson is failing to officially declare the horse a non-runner through official channels. There is no problem with announcing running plans on social media by trainers.
In fact, the BHA encourages publication of such information quickly, but it has to be accompanied by an official scratching.
It is also questionable what the BHA vets will find wrong with the horse, if anything, due to what the trainer said in his blog. "He is very well within himself but this is a case of instinct, and our instinct tells us that he just doesn’t look as good as he can do."
There is no allegation of wrongdoing on the part of Henderson or Unibet, but this is not the first time the partnership has made the news.
In 2017, Altior had a wind operation that was announced via the bookies' blog. This contradicted statements made days previously, but again followed a significant market drift for an imminent race, the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
In 2018 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint about content on Nicky Henderson's social media account.
Henderson and Unibet were told by the ASA to ensure that their future marketing communications were obviously identifiable by using tags such as #ad.
It also emerged that Unibet was running the Seven Barrows social media account.
The findings read: "They [Unibet] paid Mr. Henderson to be an ambassador for their brand and included a term that stated that one of Mr Henderson’s obligations as brand ambassador was to allow Unibet to manage, with his assistance, his social media activity throughout the term of the agreement."
Henderson told the Racing Post he had no further comment to make about this week's situation.