Sherwood rocked by £3,000 fine
Trainer Oliver Sherwood feels like "packing it up" after being fined £3,000 at Hereford on Wednesday.
Jockey Leighton Aspell was hit with a 14-day ban (December 19-22, 26-31, January 1-4) while the Sherwood-trained horse Furrows was suspended from running for 40 days after his performance in the Bet365 beginners' chase.
The local stewards felt that Furrows, a 20/1 chance, was tenderly handled in finishing fourth on his debut over fences behind Vulcanite, beaten a total of 11 and three-quarter lengths.
The stewards found Sherwood guilty of 'schooling and/or conditioning the horse on the racecourse'. In defence, the Upper Lambourn told the officials the horse had a history of leg problems, was an average jumper at home, and had suffered a nasty fall at Sandown earlier in his career.
He said: "I'm absolutely mortified. I've never been accused of anything in 27 years of training.
"I will be appealing, I don't know how you go about it. I've spoken to the NTF (National Trainers Federation).
"I know it didn't look particularly good. My number one priority is horse welfare. The horse nearly died last year at Sandown.
"It was his first run over fences. The number one [priority] was to get round in one piece.
"The owners are so shocked they want to pull out of racing now. They lost a horse at Hereford that got killed last year. I feel like packing it up."
Rachael Downey, the breeder of Furrows, was at the racecourse and also upset at the decision.
"He was a 20/1 chance and we were in the owners' room celebrating the fact that he had just got round safe," she told At The Races.
"To me he [Aspell] rode a brilliant race. We got a fourth against horses who were so [far] higher rated.
"I said to the stewards 'Where did you think he was going to come?'. He might have been third, but [in a seven-runner race] that wouldn't have made any difference to any punters.
"My question is does the punishment fit the crime? It's devastating. We lost his full-brother on this course in the same going last year and this was his first chase. This is my baby."