The British Horseracing Authority have fined trainer Henry Oliver £140 after waving his arms at a horse to encourage it to race, a decision that has infuriated many including current Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson and former Champion Jockey Sir AP McCoy.
Oliver was trying to force Burrenbridge Hotel to group with his opponents prior to the start of the 2m4f handicap steeplechase at Uttoxeter on Saturday, a contest where he went on to pull-up.
The trainer was found to be guilty of misconduct with the BHA releasing a statement reading: "Trainers are not permitted to encourage their horses to start, and that rule is there for a good reason.
"We set a lot of store in our sport behind the fact that we do not force horses to race and that they do so of their own free will. Moreover, in the interests of a fair, even start, individual horses should not have the attentions of a trainer or representative to get them on their way.
"For these reasons only the jockeys and starters are permitted to effect or influence the start."
McCoy began the protests, by tweeting his disgust over the decision: "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."
The 20-time champion jockey's views were mirrored by the Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson, who drew up a fair comparison to the starts in flat racing.
(Credit: Racing Post) He said: "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. How are punters going to feel about horses being allowed to decide whether to start or not, he finished."
After the recording was shown to the culprit at the inquiry at Uttoxeter, Oliver was quick to respond and came to the defence of his horse.
(Credit: Racing Post) He said: "Burrenbridge Hotel has been here a while and probably needs a change of scenery.
"The Skelton horse who won the novice hurdle wouldn't walk out the paddock so they were waving their arms at that too, yet our horse planted near the start so I went down there to tell Sam [Twiston-Davies] to get off him and the horse will go forward as that's how he is at home.
"I hadn't asked for permission but with the race times pushed back our horse had planted with the delay, so I was just trying to give him every chance of running his race.
"As we were away from the start I raised my arms to get him away from the fence, where he had stopped, and when the starters got behind him I stayed away.
"It's a bit disappointing that the stewards didn't just say something to me. 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," he concluded.
Fellow trainers Amy Murphy and Brendan Powell were other names that came to Oliver's aid.