Tancred Stakes Winning Trainer Howley Fined for Tactics Shift

It is a strange occurrence when a trainer is fined when his or her horse wins a race, outside of something blatant, such as obvious interference, but strange as it does appear, Liam Howley had to cop to a $1000 fine when Almandin crossed first in Saturday’s Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400 m) at Rosehill Racecourse.

Howley’s crime?

He did not inform stewards prior to the race that his intent was for Almandin to win the race.

It is actually a bit more technical than that.

Almandin, via Howley and jockey Kerrin McEvoy, went off script and took up a forward position and ran on the speed for the entire race, when he was supposed to win only in a certain fashion, if win he must.

Almandin won by 1 – ¼ lengths and it would have been more had the race been longer.

In the process of reaching into Howley’s pockets for some spare bills, stewards told Howley, “You failed to notify us of a change of tactics.”

Last time out, with Damien Oliver in the saddle, Almandin was sent back from a wide draw in the Australian Cup. In that race, Almandin finished fourth, so it would seem obvious that some sort of adjustment was necessary, but Howley was required to let everyone know in advance of his intentions to try something different in the Tancred Stakes.

It has the odor of fishiness to it, but at times, it seems as though everything about Almandin is a bit off. He has done little in the way of work since winning the Melbourne Cup in 2016. Saturday’s start was just the 20th of his career, which is where you would expect to see a horse half his age in terms of jumps.

As odd as being fined for running differently in the course of winning, Howley, who took over as Almandin’s trainer when Lloyd Williams sent Robert Hickmott away, agreed with the fine. He tried to pass the tactical change along to McEvoy, mentioning that there seemed to be different opinions as to how Almandin should be ridden in the race.

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