British racehorse trainer Nicky Henderson has fired back at the wave of criticism for his recent handling of Irish racehorse Altior, who is currently the leading favourite for the Champion Chase in March.
The relationship between bookmakers and trainers has been heavily questioned since Henderson revealed the horse will miss what was his intended return in the Tingle Creek Chase after a vet confirmed he had a wind problem. Henderson broke the news on a November Wednesday, via his blog on the Unibet website.
The issue is, Henderson told the At The Races programme on the Monday that the superb “totally on target” for the race. On the Wednesday afternoon, someone appeared to have acquired knowledge Altior would miss his return and backed other horses in the race while laying him on Betfair. Odds were slashed and one bookmaker suspended betting.
In the aftermath columns were penned on the adverse effect this will have on the image of racing and how trainers inform the public of injuries.
Speaking to the Guardian today, Nicky Henderson attacked the coverage of the fiasco and said he was finished with his media dealings:
From now on I will do it through my Unibet voice. I will do my blogs for them but talk to nobody else. The press have beaten me to bits. They’ve tried to undermine my credibility. It’s like they didn’t believe me. So i.e. they’re calling me a liar. But one or two people are dead meat.
Donald McRae suggests at this point Henderson sounded like the Godfather. His disillusionment with the media wasn't finished there:
The press room really disappointed me. Print. Print! Print! That’s a quote. I can be disappointed with results, I can be disappointed with horses. But I’ve never been so disappointed with people as the media and how they treated me.
Soon after, Henderson finished the interview and left.
'Altior-gate' is a pressing an issue for the way trainers communicate with the public more than anything else. Henderson has maintained he could not have broken the news any sooner, but the moves in the market indicate somebody must have known.
Many trainers and jockeys pen blogs for bookmakers, it would be a shame for that to be the only means of access for the general public.
You can read the interview in full here.