It was the H.G. Wells character Dr Kemp that one asked himself, "Has the world gone mad - or have I?" and it would seem a lot of notable figures in the horse racing world are asking themselves the same question this afternoon.
Yesterday at Uttoxeter, 9/1 shot Burrenbridge Hotel lined up for the Class 4, SWUK Steel Decking Handicap Chase. Unfancied in the six-runner contest, the Henry Oliver trained eight-year-old, proved a touch stubborn for Sam Twiston-Davies as the runners and riders went to the wire; the gelding planting himself firmly upsides a fence as he made his way to the start.
Cue the arrival of trainer Oliver, who was able to eventually coax the horse into movement, allowing the full complement of six to start the race. All in vain, in the end, with the animal mercifully pulled up by pilot Twiston-Davies having tailed off well before the second last flight.
As the steed made his way back to the stables, the BHA were busying themselves. Just what would they do with the disgraceful Henry Oliver?
His crime, you might ask? Well, waving his arms a few times in front of the nag whilst stood there planted by that fence, the trainer had fallen afoul of a set of rules designed to ensure the safety and comfortability of all horses taking part in rules events.
BHA Statement following the Stewards decision to impose a £140 fine on Henry Oliver at Uttoxeter yesterday: pic.twitter.com/V33ryBnmrm
— BHA Press Office (@BHAPressOffice) January 27, 2019
Fined £140 over the head of it, the slap on the wrist may well have gone unnoticed had it not been for a social media backlash this afternoon, with legends such as Tony McCoy and Nicky Henderson setting the pace.
Taking to Twitter, the 20-time champion jockey threatened to block the BHA on the platform, describing the decision to fine Oliver as "embarrassing rubbish".
And for such stupidity I’m going to block @BHAStewards incase I end up reading again such embarrassing rubbish.......how can our sport have such appalling decision makers in charge https://t.co/A8pfXJk46c
— AP McCoy (@AP_McCoy) January 27, 2019
Five-time champion trainer Henderson sang from a similar hymn sheet when asked for comment by the Racing Post.
If they are talking about giving horses free will about starting then what about at the stalls on the Flat, when ten burly and brilliant men shove, heave and lift horses into the stalls when the horse says no?
The BHA is baffling at the moment, coming out with more and more bizarre instructions. I despair.
Brendan Powell perhaps highlighted the lunacy best of all, however, questioning where the BHA were intent on drawing the line.
But surely leading a horse in at the start , which is allowed, is encouraging a horse to start?? https://t.co/CvpJJ8ZMop
— Brendan Powell (@bpowell13) January 27, 2019
Whilst admitting that £140 won't make a massive difference to his life, there was certainly exasperation from Oliver, at what he sees as the BHA taking an opportunity to single him out.
It's a bit disappointing that the stewards didn't just say something to me rather than try and make an example of me, but that's their choice.
The same steward had me in for a horse at Bangor recently and told me I was running it over the wrong trip, so I don't know why the stewards don't train the horses themselves.
The BHA in recent years has taken steps to ensure that horse welfare has become of the utmost importance in the sport. The use of the whip has been restricted in flat races to seven times, whilst eight encouragements are allowed in jumps racing. The Grand National fences were lowered controversially for the 2012 edition of the race after participants Ornais and Dooneys Gate each came to their end twelve months previously.